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THE SEX PROBLEM 

IN 
MODERN SOCIETY 



THE MODERN LIBRARY 

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THE 
SEX PROBLEM 

IN 

MODERN 
SOCIETY 

An Anthology 

EDITED BY 
JOHN FRANCIS McDERMOTT 



Library 
if Ant 9f &.,,, 0. 9. 



THE 

MODERN LIBRARY 

NEW YORK 




COPYRIGHT, 1931, BY THE MODERN LIBRARY, INC. 




HoUSe is THE PUBLISHER OF 
THE MODERN LIBRARY 

BENNETT A. CERF DONALD S. KLOPFER ROBERT K. HAAS 

Manufactured in the United States of America 
Printed by Parkway Printing Company Bound by H. Wolff 



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 

THE editor gratefully acknowledges his indebtedness to 
the following for the use of the material incorporated in this 
book: 

American Mercury; Bookman; Dodd, Mead & Company; 
Doubleday, Doran and Company ; Harcourt, Brace and Com- 
pany; Harper & Brothers; Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.; Horace 
Liveright, Inc.; The Macaulay Company; North American 
Review; W. W. Norton & Company; Outlook and Independ* 
ent; Greenberg: Publisher; Dr. Charles Francis Potter; Miss 
Grace Potter; Charles Scribner's Sons; Simon and Schuster, 
Inc.; The Viking Press. 

J. F. McD. 



FOREWORD 

THE twentieth century has witnessed on the subject of 
sex a change in the attitude of thinking persons from that 
generally held in the nineteenth. People then professed to 
believe that the only excuse for the indulgence of the sexual 
function was in the propagation of children. Sex was not to 
be discussed, not to be thought about, not to be investigated. 
It was to be spoken about only in whispers. Its only motives 
were to be piety and patriotism. Today the subject is, on 
the whole, freely discussed, it is much thought about, and it 
is thoroughly inquired into. 

Paradoxically, the change which has been brought about 
arose from the spirit of scientific investigation which char- 
acterized many people of the past century. They did not, it 
is true, show much inclination to make a study of sex, but 
the general breaking down of taboos, which began in that 
time, weakened remaining prohibitions, and the interest in 
and pursuit of scientific (especially biological) knowledge 
led to a consideration of the physical part of man. The study 
of his body has caused man to have a greater curiosity 
as to his bodily functions and made him aware that sex is one 
of the principal functions of the body. 

The actual change in attitude, however, has been brought 
about chiefly by the work of sociologists such as Havelock 
Ellis, whose monumental Sex and Society is a frank acknowl- 
edgment of the importance of sex and of the necessity of un- 
derstanding its relation to society; by the work of such a 
psychologist as Sigmund Freud who has practically founded 
a new philosophy in which the love function is the center 
of all human activity (in one sense it does not matter whether 

vii 



Vlll FOREWORD 

Freud is right or wrong: he has stirred up a vital interest in 
sex and its problems; by the work of such a social philoso- 
pher as Bertrand Russell who has insisted on the humanity 
of sex and its relationship. As a result of the work of these 
men, of many others, and of their numerous followers, sex 
and its functioning are now looked upon as a basic study 
toward the understanding of human nature, which is, after 
all, our most immediate problem. 

Yet, though in recent decades much has been accomplished 
towards the increase of man's knowledge of sex and though 
there has been some dissemination of this knowledge, the 
non-scientific man is still in need of a wider distribution of 
findings on the subject. The editor of the present book, 
therefore, has gathered together a number of papers on 
various aspects of sex and attitudes towards it. The volume 
which he has made is not intended to represent one rigid 
editorial point of view. The editor is not concerned to ex- 
press his private views through his selections; it is his 
aim, rather, to present papers on several principal features of 
the sex question today. The essays, written by persons well 
qualified to speak on the subjects of which they write, are 
intelligently constructed and are genuinely enlightening in 
their respective fields. By offering points of view which are 
current at the present time, the essays will give the lay reader 
a definite idea, in a small compass, of what the leading think- 
ers today feel about sex. 

The editor has, consequently, decided that articles on 
the sexual ethic, on the psychology of sex, on love, on mar- 
riage, on eugenics, on birth control, on the adolescent and 
sex, and on sex in literature may prove of interest and of 
value to the reader. In order, however, that no one idea of 
or attitude toward sex might solely be developed in the book, 
the editor has offered in each section at least three essays, 
presenting different points of view on or different approaches 
to the general subject of the section. For instance, in the 
section on the psychology of sex, the reader will find a re- 



FOREWORD iX 

statement of the Freudian point of view, but he will also find 
a chapter from Adler, who minimizes sex as a vital influence 
and elevates over it the ego. In the section on marriage, the 
reader will discover essays by such divergent personalities as 
Robert Lowie, Will Durant, Ben Lindsey, and V. F. Calver- 
ton. In the section on birth control, he will see articles by 
one of the chief advocates of it and by a writer who does not 
at all believe in it, together with an article by a minister and 
another which is concerned with birth control as a check on 
population. The last section of all ; on sex in literature, dis- 
cusses both the widespread use of sex as a principal motif in 
modern literature and the relation of sex censorship to lit- 
erature. In this way the editor has compiled what he hopes 
will be both an interesting and a useful volume for the lay 
reader. 

JOHN FRANCIS MCDERMOTT. 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

FOREWORD vii 

I. THE SEXUAL ETHIC 

WHY A SEXUAL ETHIC Is NECES- 

sary Bertrand Russell 3 

THE DISCIPLINE OF SEX Edward Sapir 9 

THE NEW VIEW OF SEX George Jean Nathan 25 

II. THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SEX 

THE SEX IMPULSE IN MAN Jacques Fischer 33 

THE FREUDIAN EMPHASIS ON 

SEX Samuel D. Schmalhausen 50 

SEX Alfred Adler 71 , 

III. LOVE 

THE PLAY-FUNCTION OF SEX Havelock Ellis 99 

Is SEXUALITY LOVE? Grace Potter 1 1 1 

SEX LOVE Dora Russell 122 

IV. MARRIAGE 

SEX AND MARRIAGE Robert H. Lowie 139 

THE BREAKDOWN OF MARRIAGE Will Durant 147 

LEGISLATING FOR THE COMPANIONATE MAR- 
RIAGE Ben B. Lindsey and Wainwright Evans 170 

xi 



Xll CONTENTS 

t PAGE 

LOVE, MARRIAGE, AND DIVORCE IN 

RUSSIA V. F. Caiverton 193 

V. EUGENICS 

HEREDITY AND SEX Edward M. East 209 

EUGENICS Franz Boas 224 

RACE CONSCIOUSNESS AND EUGEN- 
ICS Andre Siegfried 236 

VI. THE PROBLEM OF BIRTH CONTROL 

ARE TEN Too MANY? Marjorie Wells 247 

WOMEN AND BIRTH CONTROL Margaret Sanger 258 

WHY THE CHURCH SHOULD CHAMPION BIRTH CON- 
TROL Charles F. Potter 267 

BIRTH CONTROL OR WAR Henry K. Norton 272 

VII. THE ADOLESCENT 

THE SEX URGE, ITS ONSET AND MAN- 
AGEMENT Joseph Collins 283 

THE SEXUAL AND MATERNAL INSTINCTS OF THE ADO- 
LESCENT GIRL Phyllis Blanchard 301 

THE LOVE PROBLEM OF THE STUDENT. . . .C. G. Jung 327 

VIII. SEX IN LITERATURE 

CONTEMPORARY SEX RELEASE IN LITERA- 
TURE V. F. Caiverton 351 

HERMAPHRODITES Robert Herrick 380 

SEX CONTROL Morris L. Ernst and William Seagle 389 



THE SEXUAL ETHIC 



WHY A SEXUAL ETHIC IS NECESSARY * 

By Bertrand Russell 

IN characterizing a society, whether ancient or modern, 
there are two elements, rather closely interconnected, which 
are of prime importance: one is the economic system, the 
other the family system. There are at the present day two 
influential schools of thought, one of which derives every- 
thing from an economic source, while the other derives 
everything from a family or sexual source, the former school 
that of Marx, the latter that of Freud. I do not myself ad- 
here to either school, since the interconnections of economics 
and sex do not appear to me to show any clear primacy of 
the one over the other from the point of view of casual effi- 
cacy. For example: no doubt the industrial revolution has 
had and will have a profound influence upon sexual morals, 
but conversely the sexual virtue of the Puritans was psy- 
chologically necessary as part cause of the industrial revolu-^ 
tion. I am not prepared myself to assign primacy to either 
the economic or sexual factor, nor in fact can they be 
separated with any clearness. Economics is concerned essen- 
tially with obtaining food, but food is seldom wanted among 
human beings solely for the benefit of the individual who 
obtains it ; it is wanted for the sake of the family, and as the 
family system changes, economic motives also change. It 
must be obvious that not only life insurance but most forms 
of private saving would nearly cease if children were taken 
away from their parents and brought up by the state as in 
Plato's Republic; that is to say, if the state were to adopt 
the role of the father, the state would, ipso jacto, become 

1 From Marriage and Morals. New York: Horace Liveright, 1929. 



4 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

the rfsole capitalist. Thoroughgoing Communists have often 
maintained the converse, that if the state is to be the sole 
capitalist, the family, as we have known it, cannot survive; 
and even if this is thought to go too far, it is impossible to 
deny an intimate connection between private property and 
the family, a connection which is reciprocal, so that we can- 
not say that one is cause and the other is effect. 

The sexual morals of the community will be found to con- 
sist of several layers. There are first the positive institutions 
embodied in law; such, for example, as monogamy in some 
countries and polygamy in others. Next there is a layer 
where law does not intervene but public opinion is emphatic. 
And lastly there is a layer which is left to individual dis- 
cretion, in practice if not in theory. There is no country in 
the world and there has been no age in the world's history 
where sexual ethics and sexual institutions have been de- 
termined by rational considerations, with the exception of 
Soviet Russia. I do not mean to imply that the institutions 
of Soviet Russia are in this respect perfect; I mean only 
that they are not the outcome of superstition and tradition, 
as are, at least in part, the institutions of all other countries 
in all ages. The problem of determining what sexual morality 
would be best from the point of view of general happiness and 
well-being is an extremely complicated one, and the answer 
will vary according to a number of circumstances. It will 
be different in an industrially advanced community from 
what it would be in a primitive agricultural regime. It will 
be different where medical science and hygiene are effective 
in producing a low death rate from what it would be where 
plagues and pestilences carry away a large proportion of 
the population before it becomes adult. Perhaps when we 
know more, we shall be able to say that the best sexual ethic 
will be different in one climate from what it would be in 
another, and different again with one kind of diet from what 
it would be with another. 

The effects of a sexual ethic are of the most diverse kinds 



WHY A SEXUAL ETHIC IS NECESSARY 5 

personal, conjugal, familial, national and international. Jt 
may well happen that the effects are good in some of these 
respects, where they are bad in others. All must be considered 
before we can decide what on the balance we are to think 
of a given system. To begin with the purely personal : these 
are the effects considered by psychoanalysis. We have here 
to take account not only of the adult behavior inculcated by 
a code, but also of the early education designed to produce 
obedience to the code, and in this region, as everyone now 
knows, -the effects of early taboos may be very curious and 
indirect. In this department of the subject we are at the 
level of personal well-being. The next stage of our problem 
arises when we consider the relations of men and women. It 
is clear that some sex relations have more value than others. 
Most people would agree that a sex relation is better when it 
has a large psychical element than when it is purely physical. 
Indeed the view which has passed from the poets into the 
common consciousness of civilized men and women is that 
love increases in value in proportion as more of the per- 
sonalities of the people concerned enters into the relation. 
The poets also have taught many people to value love in 
proportion to its intensity ; this, however, is a more debatable 
matter. Most moderns would agree that love should be an 
equal relation, and that on this ground, if on no other, 
polygamy, for example, cannot be regarded as an ideal sys- 
tem. Throughout this department of the subject it is neces- 
sary to consider both marriage and extra-marital relations, 
since whatever system of marriage prevails, extra-marital 
relations will vary correspondingly. 

We come next to the question of the family. There have 
existed in various times and places many different kinds of 
family groups, but the patriarchal family has a very large 
preponderance, and, moreover, the monogamic patriarchal 
family has prevailed more and more over the polygamic. The 
primary motive of sexual ethics as they have existed in 
Western civilization since pre-Christian times has been to 



6 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

secure that degree of female virtue without which the pa- 
triarchal family becomes impossible, since paternity is uncer- 
tain. What has been added to this in the way of insistence on 
male virtue by Christianity had its psychological source in 
asceticism, although in quite recent times this motive has 
been reenforced by female jealousy, which became influential 
with the emancipation of women. This latter motive seems, 
however, to be temporary, since, if we may judge by ap- 
pearances, women will tend to prefer a system allowing free- 
dom to both sexes rather than one imposing upon men the 
restrictions which hitherto have been suffered only by women. 
Within the monogamic family there are, however, many 
varieties. Marriages may be decided by the parties them- 
selves or by their parents. In some countries the bride is 
purchased; in others, e.g., France, the bridegroom. Then 
there may be all kinds of differences as regards divorce, from 
the Catholic extreme, which permits no divorce, to the law 
of old China, which permitted a man to divorce his wife for 
being a chatterbox. Constancy or quasi-constancy in sex 
relations arises among animals, as well as among human 
beings, where, for the preservation of the species, the partici- 
pation of the male is necessary for the rearing of the young. 
Birds, for example, have to sit upon their eggs continuously 
to keep them warm, and also have to spend a good many 
hours of the day getting food. To do both is, among many 
species, impossible for one bird, and therefore male co- 
operation is essential. The consequence is that most birds 
are models of virtue. Among human beings the cooperation 
of the father is a great biological advantage to the offspring, 
especially in unsettled times and among turbulent popula- 
tions; but with the growth of modern civilization the role 
of the father is being increasingly taken over by the state, 
and there is reason to think that a father may cease before 
long to be biologically advantageous, at any rate in the wage- 
earning class. If this should occur, we must expect a com- 
plete breakdown of traditional morality, since there will no 



WHY A SEXUAL ETHIC IS NECESSARY 7 

i 

longer be any reason why a mother should wish the paternity 
of her child to be indubitable. Plato would have us go a 
step further, and put the state not only in place of the father 
but in that of the mother also. I am not myself sufficiently 
an admirer of the state, or sufficiently impressed with the 
delights of orphan asylums, to be enthusiastic in favor of this 
scheme. At the same time it is not impossible that economic 
forces may cause it to be to some extent adopted. 

The law is concerned with sex in two different ways, on 
the one hand to enforce whatever sexual ethic is adopted by 
the community in question, and on the other hand to protect 
the ordinary rights of individuals in the sphere of sex. The 
latter have two main departments: on the one hand the pro-' 
tection of females and non-adults from assault and from 
harmful exploitation, on the other hand the prevention of 
venereal disease. Neither of these is commonly treated purely 
on its merits, and for this reason neither is so effectively 
dealt with as it might be. In regard to the former, hysterical 
campaigns about the White Slave Traffic lead to the passage 
of laws easily evaded by professional malefactors, while af- 
fording opportunities of blackmail against harmless people. 
In regard to the latter, the view that venereal disease is a 
just punishment for sin prevents the adoption of the meas- 
ures which would be the most effective on purely medical 
grounds, while the general attitude that venereal disease is 
shameful causes it to be concealed, and therefore not promptly 
or adequately treated. 

We come finally to the question of population. This is in 
itself a vast problem which must be considered from many 
points of view. There is the question of the health of mothers, 
the question of the health of children, the question of the 
psychological effects of large and small families respectively 
upon the character of children. These are what may be called 
the hygienic % aspects of the problem. Then there are the 
economic aspects, both personal and public: the question of 
the v r ealth per head of a family or a community in relation 



8 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

V 

to the size of the family or the birth rate of the community. 
Closely connected with this is the bearing of the population 
question upon international politics and the possibility of 
world peace. And, finally, there is the eugenic question as to 
the improvement or deterioration of the stock through the 
different birth and death rates of the different sections of the 
community. No sexual ethic can be either justified or con- 
demned on solid grounds until it has been examined from all 
the points of view above enumerated. Reformers and reac- 
tionaries alike are in the habit of considering one or at most 
two of the aspects of the problem. It is especially rare to find 
any combination of the private and the political points of 
view, and yet it is quite impossible to say that either of these 
is more important than the other, and we can have no 
assurance a priori that a system which is good from a private 
point of view would also be good from a political point of 
view, or vice versa. My own belief is that in most ages and 
in most places obscure psychological forces have led men to 
adopt systems involving quite unnecessary cruelty, and that 
this is still the case among the most civilized races at the 
present day. I believe also that the advances in medicine and 
hygiene have made changes in sexual ethics desirable both 
from a private and from a public point of view, while the 
increasing role of the state in education is gradually render- 
ing the father less important than he has been throughout 
historical times. We have, therefore, a twofold task in 
criticizing the current ethics: on the one hand we have to 
eliminate the elements of superstition, which are often sub- 
conscious; on the other hand we have to take account of 
those entirely new factors which make the wisdom of past 
ages the folly instead of the wisdom of the present. 



THE DISCIPLINE OF SEX * 

By Edward Sapir 

WE are in the habit of complimenting ourselves on the 
healthy attitude which is coming to prevail in America toward 
questions of sex. There is some justification for this, for it 
is obvious that an attitude that looks upon sex as intrinsically 
evil, and that seeks to rescue it from condemnation by con- 
fining it into conventionally fixed and approved channels, is 
a repressive and unhealthy one. But I am not willing to 
grant, for all that, that the present excited and puzzled atti- 
tude, shifting back and forth in a single individual's mind 
all the way from orthodox acceptance of the restraints of 
Puritanism to a reasoned religion of promiscuity, is a healthy 
attitude. The very notion of health implies the presence of a 
certain balance and of a fundamental surety of the significant 
outlines of behavior. The most that one can say for the sex 
mind of radical America is that it is in a state of transition 
and that a certain willingness to experiment dangerously is in 
the long run a safer thing than a premature striking of the 
balance. This may be a just interpretation of the few; of 
the many, who bless you for a formula for noble weakness, it 
is but psychology gulled. 

A realistic view of actual sex opinion and sex behavior 
leads to the feeling that on every hand life is being meas- 
urably cheapened by an emotional uncertainty in matters of 
sex, matters that no healthy society can long brook uncer- 
tainty of. An individual can create true personal values only 
on the basis of those accepted by his society, but when noth- 
ing is accepted, he has no room for the growth of any values 
that are more than empty formulae. The "enrichment of per- 

1 From the American Mercury, April, 1929. 

9 



10 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

s6nality" by way of multiple "experiences" proves to be 
little more than a weary accumulation of poverties. These 
shibboleths are given the lie by the uneasy eyes of the bored 
adventurers who drawl them out. Human culture, it seems, is 
so constituted that the individual dare never face his own 
organismal responses skeptically. These fundamental re- 
sponses must somehow be taken care of, by implication, in 
the patterns of social conduct, and the individual who is 
constantly being called upon to create such patterns anew 
never gets beyond the point of struggling with nature. His 
"freedom" is but the homelessness of the outlaw. 

The present sex unrest has been nibbling at more or less 
reliable information reported by anthropologists from primi- 
tive communities. Any primitive community that indulges, or 
is said to indulge, in unrestricted sex behavior is considered 
an interesting community to hear from. Such a community 
is at once equated with "primitive man" in general and has 
the great merit of bringing us back to that primary and 
glorious man that wishful romanticists have always been 
dreaming about. 

It does not seem to occur to the readers of excited books 
about pleasure-loving Samoans and Trobriand Islanders that 
perhaps these communities are not as primitive as they seem, 
that there are perhaps other primitive groups that have de- 
veloped an ideology of sex that is not so very different from 
that of our happily extinct Victorian ancestors, and that in 
any event there may be social determinants in such societies 
that make the question of value in sex conduct of lesser 
urgency than among ourselves. It is true that many primitive 
societies allow of erotic and marital arrangements that shock 
the sensibilities of our conservatives. But what should be 
denied is that sex conduct is truly unregulated even in these 
societies. A closer examination shows that the community has 
certain very definite ideas as to what is allowable and what 
is not allowable. 

As the conception of the permitted and the illicit, how- 



THE DISCIPLINE OF SEX II 

ever, in such groups is rarely calculated to interest us unless 
we happen to be objective students of primitive culture, it is 
not so obvious why we should think of the license, or ap- 
proximate license, that we read into their sex behavior, as of 
any special concern to us. If we cannot sympathetically un- 
ierstand their sex taboos, why do we pretend to understand 
their freedom from our sex taboos? Obviously they are in no 
better case than we ourselves. Historical factors have set 
certain specific bounds to the expression of the sex impulse in 
these societies, as they have set more or less specific bounds 
in our own, and a primitive reformer who attempted to break 
down every possible barrier to the free play of sex would 
receive small comfort from his fellow men. 

But it is simply not true that sex freedom is the norm for 
primitive societies. It is, as a matter of fact, very much the 
exception, and the presence of sex taboos, of institutionalized 
deferments of sexual gratification, and of all manner of sex 
ideals, so far from justifying us in wringing our hands at the 
perversity of mankind, might more rationally be expected to 
lead to a psychological inquiry into the reason why human 
beings have so persistently gone out of their way to put 
obstacles in the way of the immediate satisfaction of the sex 
impulse. A certain type of historian is ready with his answer. 
He tells us that these restrictions have merely come in as a 
by-product of the conception that women are a form of prop- 
erty. This is one of those theories that are too plausible to be 
true. The institutionalizing of marriage in terms of property 
can be amply illustrated in both primitive and sophisticated 
societies this no one doubts but we are far from having 
the right to take it for granted that ideas of ownership are 
the root of all sex restrictions. We know too little as yet 
about the psychological causes of sexual modesty and secrecy, 
of the universal dread of sex squandering, of the irresistible 
drive to hedging sex about in one way or another, but we 
may be certain that these causes are not of a trivial nature 
and that they are not to be abrogated by a smart and trivial 



12 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

< 

analysis of sex by intellectuals who have more curiosity than 
intuition. 

For reasons which can only be dimly guessed at, man 
seems everywhere and always to have felt that sex was a 
quintessential gratification that it was not well to secure at 
too easy a price, that it held within it sources of power, of 
value, that could not be rudely snatched. In short, mankind 
has always known that sex needed to be conserved in large 
part and made over into more than sex. Freud's theory of 
sublimation has always been man's intuition, and sex has 
always restlessly striven to become love. 

Nothing seems more difficult than to convince the all-wise 
modern that the emotion of love, quite aside from the 
momentary fulfillment of desire, is one of the oldest and most 
persistent of human feelings. It is far from being the sec- 
ondary or adventitiously superimposed thing that it is so 
often said to be. On the contrary, much that is generally 
interpreted as primitive, because unromantic, may well be 
interpreted as a superstructure imposed upon the sex life 
by considerations of a relatively sophisticated nature eco- 
nomic, social, religious, or political. 

It may be well at this point to relate a brief story which 
I collected a number of years ago from the Sarcee Indians of 
Alberta, Canada. The story goes back to the early days, 
before the Indians were seriously bothered by the white man's 
morality or his license. It will seem all wrong to some, for 
it is nothing but an old-fashioned love story from anywhere 
and any time. 

Here, once upon a time, they were camped in a circle. They 
were putting up the Sun Dance. 2 This one young man was 
making love to her; he and the girl had love for each other. 
Every time that she came in she would sit down close to 
where the people were singing and her young man would peep 

2 The Sun Dance is the most important communal ceremonial of 
the tribes of the Plains, and the most sacred object in the ritual is 
the center pole of the Sun Dance lodge. 



THE DISCIPLINE OF SEX 13 

in between the lodge-poles which were leaning against each 
other. And so it was that his face paint would always be left 
on the poles. 

After a while it was said that they were about to go on the 
warpath, so this young man went to his sweetheart and 
said to her, "Do not get lonesome for me. We shall see each 
other again/' And then the girl gave him a little of her hair 
which she had cut off and she tied it up and they kissed each 
other and parted. Now they went off to war and the girl's 
heart dropped. 3 

When the Sun Dance was over, the people broke up camp; 
they were to come together again at this place at a stated 
time. They moved off in different directions. Now, as to these 
people who had gone off on the warpath, they were sighted 
by the enemy, who sat down in ambush for them. When they 
got in sight of the enemy, they were attacked and all of them 
were killed. 

After a long time the people came together again at the 
place that had been mentioned, and when they were all as- 
sembled the news was brought that those who had gone off to 
war had all been killed so it was said. This girl heard about 
it. And then she went to the Sun Dance lodge and came here 
to the place where her sweetheart had been in the habit of 
peeping in. She saw his face paint on the pole against which 
he used to lean. And then she returned to her people's lodge 
and, having arrived there, she took a rope. And then she went 
back to the Sun Dance lodge and climbed the pole which 
stood in the center of it. She tied the rope to the pole and 
looped the other end of it about her neck. And then she sang 
the song which her sweetheart had been in the habit of 
singing. 

After a while a certain one discovered the girl and what she 
was doing, how she was singing while seated up there on the 
pole. He spoke of it. They rushed out to her, but before they 
could reach her she had jumped off and strangled herself with 
the rope. Though they cut the rope off at once, she was 
already dead. That is how the girl strangled herself. 

3 The native equivalent for "she was brokenhearted." 



14 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

This story proves nothing, but it gives pause for thought. 
It contains all the elements of romantic love and it subjects 
that romantic love to the final test of all values, which is the 
test of tragedy. It is not an isolated instance, by any means, 
though I should not like to be misunderstood as claiming it 
to be an average or even a typical incident of primitive life 
or of any other form of life. It is one of those comparatively 
rare but basically typical examples of the form that a natural 
value will take in almost any culture if it is supported by an 
underlying passion which is pure and intense. To speak of 
frenzy or madness is beside the point, for frenzy is the 
climactic test of any value. 

What is the meaning of this strange passion of love, which 
crops up at all times and in all places and which the modern 
rationalist finds it so difficult to allow except as a superficial 
amplification of the sex drive under the influence of certain 
conventional ideas and habits? It is as difficult to state 
clearly what the emotion consists of as it is easy, if one is 
willing to be but honest for a moment, to comprehend it. 
The sex nucleus is perfectly obvious and no love that is not 
built up around this nucleus has psychological reality. But 
what transforms sex into love is a strange and compulsive 
identification of the loved one with every kind of attachment 
that takes the ego out of itself. The intensity of sex becomes 
an unconscious symbol for every other kind of psychic in- 
tensity, and the intensity of love is measured by the intensi- 
ties of all non-egoistic identifications that have been trans- 
ferred to it. It is useless to argue that this is madness. In a 
sense it is, and we have yet to learn of a value or an ideal 
that is not potential madness. 

Why is it, then, that a sentiment which is as much at 
home in our despised Victorian yesterday as in the obscure 
life of a remote Indian tribe needs to be discussed with so 
much apology today? There is a complex of factors which 
explains the present temper and we need only examine them 
to make us realize how transitory is likely to be that temper. 



THE DISCIPLINE OF SEX 15 

First of all, the old Puritan morality, which looked upon 
the sex act as inherently sinful, is still too painfully near to 
us, and the revolt which was bound to set in sooner or later 
has concentrated all of its energies on the annihilation of this 
notion of sin. Naturally enough, it has had little patience 
with the arduous task of retaining that in the inherited 
ideology of sex which was psychologically sound or, at any 
rate, capable of preservation as a value without violence to 
nature. What has happened is that the odious epithet of sin 
has been removed from sex, but sex itself has not been left 
a morally indifferent concept. The usual process of over- 
correction has invested sex with a factitious value as a roman- 
tic and glorious thing in itself. The virus of sin has passed 
into love, and the imaginative radiance of love, squeezed into 
the cramped quarters formerly occupied by sin, has trans- 
figured lust and made it into a new and phosphorescent holi- 
ness. Love, a complicated and inevitable sentiment, is for 
the moment sickening for lack of sustenance. 

But the anti-Puritan revolt is much more than a revolt 
against sex repression alone. It is a generalized revolt against 
everything that is hard, narrow, and intolerant in the old 
American life, and which sees in sex repression its most 
potent symbol of attack. Many young men and women of 
today who declare themselves sexually free are really revolt- 
ing against quite other than sex restrictions. They glory in 
the reputed "sin" because they see it as a challenge to the 
very notion of repression. 

The revolt complex is powerfully strengthened by an in- 
sidious influence exerted by modern science. It has been one 
of the cheerless, yet perfectly natural, consequences of the 
scientific view of life that nothing in human conduct is sup- 
posed to have reality or meaning except in the ultimate 
physiological terms that alone describe life or are said to 
describe life to its scientific analyst. If life is nothing but 
physiology, how can love be other than sex, with such im- 



1 6 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

material reinterpretations as no hard-headed modern need 
take seriously? 

Even more important, at least in America, is the great 
psychological need of the modern woman to extend and make 
firm her symbols of economic independence. Every attitude 
and every act that challenges the old doctrine of psychic sex 
difference is welcomed, no matter where it leads. The most 
obvious differences of motivation between the sexes are pas- 
sionately ignored and a whole new mythology has been 
evolved which deceives only the clever. 

The virulence of this reinterpretation of the significance 
of sex differences is tending to die down, but we are still 
suffering from the psychological aftermath of the feminist 
revolt. Who has not met the essentially frigid woman who 
uses her sex freedom as a weapon with which to feed her 
ego? And this all too common sacrifice of love and the pos- 
sibility of love on the altar of an ambition which is essentially 
insatiable, because it is so much of a compulsion, is met by 
the complementary need of " fair-minded" men to accept the 
free woman at her word. Hence the cult of pseudo-nobility, 
what Wyndham Lewis so aptly calls the new sex snobbery, 
which makes an intellectual fetish of freedom and abolishes 
jealousy by a fiat of the will. 

The psychological falsity of these attitudes and liberations 
is manifest enough and leads to a new set of most insidious 
repressions which owe their origin to the subordination of the 
natural impulse to reason. It is questionable if these new and 
hardly recognized repressions, these elaborate maskings of 
the unconscious by the plausible terminologies of "freedom," 
of "cumulative richness of experience," of "self-realization," 
do not lead to an even more profound unhappiness than the 
more normal subordination of impulse to social convention 
that we hear so much about. 

The truth of the matter is that in the life of the emotions 
one can make too few as well as too many demands, and the 
life of love is naturally no exception to the rule. Men and 



THE DISCIPLINE OF SEX 17 

women who expect too little of each other, who are too nobly 
eager to grant each other privileges and self-existences that 
the unconscious does not really want, invite a whole crop of 
pathological developments. The chronic insistence on the 
notions of freedom and self-expression is itself contrary to 
the natural current of the sex life, which flows away from 
the ego and seeks a realization for the ego which is in a sense 
destructive of its own claims. Sex as self-realization un- 
consciously destroys its own object by making of it no more 
than a tool to a selfish end. There can be no doubt that much 
modern sex freedom is little more than narcissism, self-love. 
Applied narcissism, in our particular society, is necessarily 
promiscuity. 

A further consequence of an uncritical doctrine of sex 
freedom is the lack of true psychological intimacy between 
lovers and between husband and wife. Abstract freedom is 
poor soil for the growth of love. It leads to an unacknowl- 
edged suspicion and watchfulness and a never-satisfied long- 
ing, which in the end kill off the finer and the more sublimated 
forms of passion. The modern man seeks to save the situation 
by analyzing sex attachment into the fulfillment of sex desire 
plus such intimacy as constant companionship can give. 

This is, of course, totally false psychologically. It is merely 
a feeble synthesis of dissociated elements arrived at by an 
inadequate analysis. The easy physical accessibility of the 
sexes to each other at an early age, the growth of a spurious 
"pal" spirit between them, with sex itself thrown in as a 
bribe or as a reward all this, so far from bringing the sexes 
together in a finer intimacy, has exactly the opposite effect 
of leaving them essentially strangers to each other, for they 
early learn just enough to put a more intuitive seeking and 
longing stupidly to sleep. Is it a wonder that the sexes un- 
consciously hate each other today with an altogether new and 
baffling virulence? 

In extreme cases one dreads to acknowledge how fre- 
quent these extreme cases are becoming the constantly 



1 8 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

dampened, because never really encouraged, passion between 
the sexes leads to compensation in the form of homosexuality, 
which, if we are reliably informed, is definitely on the in- 
crease in America. This surely is a strange point of arrival 
for a gospel of delivery from repression, but it is a perfectly 
explicable one. Love having been squeezed out of sex, it 
revenges itself by assuming unnatural forms. The cult of the 
"naturalness" of homosexuality fools no one but those who 
need a rationalization of their personal sex problems. 

In estimating the significance of the social and psycho- 
logical currents which are running in the sphere of sex today, 
it is important to do justice to both cultural and personal 
factors. It is dangerous to ignore either. Our culture of today 
is not the creation of the moment, but the necessary con- 
tinuation of the culture of yesterday, with all its values. 
These values need revision, but they cannot be overthrown 
by any scientific formula. The intellectuals who declare them 
dead are very much more at their mercy than they care to 
know. It is not claimed that all individuals can or should 
make identical adjustments, but in an atmosphere in which 
no norms of conduct are recognized and no values are main- 
tained, no man or woman can make a satisfactory indi- 
vidual adjustment. 

It is peculiarly dangerous in dealing with the sex problem 
to let petty verbal analogies do the work of an honest 
analysis. The problem of jealousy is an excellent illustration 
of this. Owing to the highly individualistic and possessive 
philosophy of so much of our life, the image of possessiveness 
has been plausibly but insidiously transferred to the marital 
relation, finally to the relation of love itself. Sex jealousy 
is therefore said to imply possessiveness. As one emancipated 
young woman once expressed it to me, it would be an insult 
to her and her husband to expect fidelity of either of them. 
Yet what is more obvious than this that jealousy can no 
more be weeded out of the human heart than the shadows 
cast by the objects of this world can be obliterated by a 



THE DISCIPLINE OF SEX 1 9 

mechanism that gives them an eternal luminosity? Every 
joy has its sorrow, every value has its frustration, and the 
lover who is too noble to be jealous has always been justly 
suspected by mankind of being no lover at all. It is not the 
province of men and women to declare out of their intellectual 
pride what emotions they care to sanction as legitimate or 
admirable. They can only try to be true to their feelings and 
to accept the consequences of the fulfillment or denial of 
these feelings in the terms which nature sees fit to impose. 

The supposed equivalence of sex jealousy to the emotion 
of resentment at the infringement of one's personal property 
rights is entirely false. Sex jealousy, in its purest form, is 
essentially a form of grief, while the combative feeling 
aroused by theft or other invasion of one's sovereignty is 
of course nothing but anger. Grief and anger may be inter- 
mingled, but only a shallow psychologist will identify them. 
Perhaps the linguistic evidence is worth something on this 
point. It is remarkable in how few languages the concept of 
sex jealousy is confused with the notion of envy. Our use of 
the English word jealous in two psychologically distinct 
senses has undoubtedly been responsible for a good deal 
of loose thinking and faulty analysis. It is an insult to the 
true lover to interpret his fidelity and expectation of fidelity 
as possessiveness and to translate the maddening grief of 
jealousy into the paltry terminology of resentment at the 
infringement of property rights. These crowning psycho- 
logical absurdities were reserved for the enlightened mentality 
of today. 

We are beginning to understand how much we are swayed 
in the unconscious by obscure but potent symbolisms. There 
is a certain logic or configurative necessity about these sym- 
bolisms which it is hard to put into words, but which the 
intuitively-minded feel keenly. Sex conduct offers singularly 
potent examples of the importance of such symbolisms and of 
their arrangement in a series of cumulative values. I refer to 
the general symbolism of human intimacy. 



i.0 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

Every normal individual is unconsciously drawn toward 
or repelled by another individual, even if the overt contact 
is but brief and superficial. These feelings of intimacy and 
withdrawal have their symbolisms in gesture and expression, 
which differ from individual to individual but tend none the 
less to take typical forms under the influence of social forces. 
Of necessity, the most potent symbols of intimacy are those 
that lead to the touching and handling of bodies. To put the 
matter crudely, we are not in the habit of embracing people 
to whom we are indifferent and of standing frigidly aloof 
from those that we are psychologically intimate with, unless, 
of course, there is a conflict that paralyzes expression. 

Now, of all known forms of intimacy among human beings 
the sex relation is naturally the most far-reaching. It neces- 
sarily takes its place in the unconscious series of symbolisms 
of intimacy as the most valued and the final symbol of all. 
I do not claim that all human beings are equally sensitive to 
symbolisms of this sort, but there is enough of a psychological 
common ground in most of us to make it impossible for the 
normal person to transgress the unformulated laws of sym- 
bolic ex t ,/ession beyond a certain point. 

It is exceedingly likely, it seems to me, that the obscure, 
though of course unacknowledged, feeling of shame felt by 
prostitutes and by those who indulge in promiscuity is by no 
means entirely due to the fact that they transgress the social 
code, laying themselves open to a conventional censure. It 
is likely that this shame is also in large part the resultant of 
an elusive feeling that a natural scale of values is being 
transgressed because the expressions which are their symbols 
are, by implication, arranged in a psychologically impossible 
Sequence. In a deeply symbolic sense, then, the prostitute is 
"illogical," and her only psychological escape is to refuse to 
identify herself with her body. And it is no mere accident 
that so many of the protagonists of sex freedom despise their 
own bodies. 

In sober fact the erotic landscape in contemporary America 



THE DISCIPLINE OF SEX 21 

is by no means as depressing as these observations may 
lead one to believe. I have wanted to point out the psycho- 
logical fallacies in the contemporary cult of sex freedom and 
the ultimate implications of those fallacies rather than to 
give an accurate description of contemporary sex life. Sex 
irregularities, while numerous, are not necessarily as indica- 
tive as they seem to be of the deeper-lying set of our erotic 
philosophy. Unless I sadly misread the mores of America, 
there are many reassuring signs that the reign of so-called 
Puritan morality is not likely to come to a sudden end even 
among the sophisticated and that, while the negative elements 
of that morality are sure to be cast aside by the intelligent 
and their rigor mitigated by all, its essential core will survive. 

Europe may laugh and shrug its shoulders but America 
can be shockingly stubborn on what she feels to be the 
fundamentals of life. It would be nothing short of a cultural 
disaster if America as a whole surrendered to continental 
European feeling and practice. With religion in none too 
healthy a state and with the aesthetic life rudimentary and 
imitative, America needs an irrational faith in the value of 
love and of fidelity in love as perhaps no other pdti of the 
occidental world needs it today. 

The moral atmosphere in America is only superficially 
similar to that of continental Europe. One of the surest signs 
of the essential difference in outlook is the rapidly increasing 
divorce rate. Bewailed by domestic moralists and deplored 
by our European visitors, the ease of obtaining divorce in 
America is actually an indication of our restless psychological 
health. Were the institution of marriage and the family 
actually divorced in sentiment from the sphere of sex in- 
dulgence, there would be no reason why a tolerance of marital 
infidelity should not come to be accepted in America as it has 
long been in France. But anyone who imagines that America 
can with a clear conscience settle down to the reasonable and 
gracious distribution of individual pleasures and familial 



22 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

ceremonies that seems to suit the French genius knows very 
little about the American temper. 

The very youthful intellectuals who are clamorous in their 
determination to "go the limit" are unable in practice to 
"play the game," for they cannot learn the rules. Do what 
one will, sex relations in America have a way of calling up 
romantic images and implications of fidelity that make this 
country seem a mysterious, an incredible, realm to the 
emancipated foreigner. Incompatibility of husband and wife 
of necessity leads more speedily to divorce than in sophisti- 
cated Europe. I am leaving Russia out of the picture, for we 
know too little about the psychological realities of con- 
temporary Russia to speak of it with profit. 

Closely connected with this stubborn unwillingness of the 
typical American to save marriage and the integrity of the 
family at the cost of erotic honesty is his peculiar unwilling- 
ness or inability to make a fine art of sex indulgence. The 
"kick" of sex freedom in America lies precisely in its being 
"sin," not an honest way of life. Americans make poor Don 
Juans. Nor does the graceful and accomplished hetcera of 
French life seem to flourish on our stubborn soil. Many 
young women have tried the part but even the most suc- 
cessful of our amateurs in the erotic arts seem compelled 
by the very nature of the culture in which they have been 
reared to pay a heavy price. Our intellectual mistresses of 
sin play a sadly pedantic part, their ardors are in the head 
rather than in the heart zone. 

To put it bluntly, the "free" woman of sophisticated 
America, whether poetess or saleslady, has a hard job escap- 
ing from the uncomfortable feeling that she is really a safe, 
and therefore a dishonest, prostitute. The charge seems un- 
reasonable to the mind, but the spirit cannot wholly throw 
off the imputation. The battle shows in the hard, slightly 
unfocused, glitter of the eye and in the hollow laugh. And 
one can watch the gradual deterioration of personality that 



THE DISCIPLINE OF SEX 23 

seems to set in in many of our young women with the pre- 
mature adoption of the new sophisticated sex standards. 

Psychiatrists have often burned their fingers in this mat- 
ter and perhaps there is nothing they need to keep more 
steadily in mind than that in proffering advice in matters of 
sex they are addressing themselves not merely to intelligence 
and to desire but to certain obscure and unacknowledged 
values that cannot be flouted with impunity. If they are of 
foreign birth and culture, it would be well for them to take 
a little more seriously some of the "resistances" they en- 
counter and to ponder, on occasion, the possibility that in 
exploding a personal "complex" they may incidentally be 
shattering an "ideal/ 7 That American men and women 
coarsen on a fare that seems to agree with the sophisticates 
of the Old World is both a warning and a reason for optimism. 
It points the way to a reaction of feeling that Europe will 
not understand. 

Americans tend, in the most disconcerting way, to be 
both realistic and conservative in the matter of sex. That 
psychological health demands sex satisfaction at a much 
earlier period than the general postponement of marriage 
makes possible is coming to be generally recognized. It is 
clear, however, that a true tolerance for illicit relationships 
of a promiscuous sort is not likely to become prevalent. Such 
suggested institutions as the companionate marriage lead one 
rather to suspect that America is feeling its way toward a 
loosening of the institutional rigors and responsibilities of 
marriage by the growth of new types of sex relationship. 

It is difficult to say just what is likely to emerge from the 
present period of unrest and experimentation, but one thing 
seems certain. America will not be a docile pupil of Europe, 
and the sophisticates of this country who are taken in by the 
apparently easy solutions of their European brethren, whom 
they so vainly admire, are likely to find themselves in a 
strangely unsympathetic clime. That new institutions of an 
erotic and marital nature are slowly maturing is obvious. It 



24 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

is my belief that it is no less obvious that these institutions, 
whatever their forms may be, will not mean a surrender to 
license but will have for their object, however obscurely and 
indirectly, the saving of love and the perpetuation of romantic 
intimacy and of the ideal of fidelity by those who are capable 
of this intimacy. And it is more likely than not that the 
average American, for a long time to come, will have the 
delusion, if it is nothing else, that he is capable of just this 
experience. 



THE NEW VIEW OF SEX 1 
By George Jean Nathan 

THE doctrine that there is a very considerable humor in 
Bex, long upheld by the small minority of men and women 
who were able to think with their emotions, has spread so 
rapidly and so widely in the last decade that it is difficult to 
find more than one man or woman out of every dozen who 
doesn't currently believe in it. It used to be thought pretty 
generally that sex was a grim, serious and ominous business, 
to be entered into only by those duly joined in holy wedlock 
or by those lost souls already in thrall to the devil. Sex was 
synonymous with danger, tragedy, woe or, at its best, with 
legalized baby carriages. This view of sex has gone out of 
style with such other contemporary delusions as French 
altruism, the making of the world safe for democracy and 
the evil of Bolshevist government. I do not argue, plainly 
enough, that back in the cow pastures of the land the old 
view of sex does not still prevail, for it does; but wherever 
lights are brighter and there are paving stones and so much 
as a single electric street car, wherever a band, however bad, 
plays on Saturday nights, there you will find a change in the 
old order. Sex, once wearing the tragic mask, wears now the 
mask of comedy. And whenever one laughs at a thing, one 
is no longer afraid of it. 

I have alluded to the current prevalent looseness of con- 
versation on sex matters. That conversation, as I have also 
indicated, generally takes on a humorous form, for one may 
be humorous about forbidden subjects with exemption, where 
a serious approach would be met with an offended air and 

1 From Land of the Pilgrim's Pride. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 
Inc., 1927. 

25 



26 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

rebuff. Many years ago, in my university days, I had a friend 
who played left end on the football team. It was my friend's 
technique he was gifted with an irresistible talent for low 
comedy to tell funny stories to the end playing opposite him 
on a rival eleven, weaken the latter with laughter and thus 
easily dispose of him. Since sex has become the playing- 
ground of conversational humor, we may believe that the 
technique of my football friend is often adopted in other 
directions. 

What has brought about this view of sex as a humorous 
business is problematical. It is possible that the altered view 
has come about in due course of time and nature, that all 
such things move in inscrutable cycles and that once again we 
are in the midst of a quasi-Restoration turn of the clock. 
However, I make a guess in another direction. After a long 
and uninterrupted period of serious regard of anything, the 
wind always changes and there is born a sudden and re- 
calcitrant laughter. Human nature is such that it cannot stand 
monotony; it demands relief. And history shows us that as 
surely as a period of high gayety is followed abruptly by one 
of desolation and as surely as a period of misery is followed 
by one of prosperity, so, too, does a psychically and philo- 
sophically glum period inevitably soon or late give way 
to one of psychic and philosophical revelry. Thus, it is proba- 
ble that the humorous view of sex has come about as a direct 
result of the long serious view of sex, that human nature 
simply demanded a change. As it deposed czars and kings 
and set up Yiddish pants-cutters and Wop soap-box bally- 
hoos in their places, so it deposed the tragedians and trage- 
diennes of sex and set up comedians and comediennes. 

But the change in the approach to the sex question has 
not, as might be inferred, been an arbitrary one. It is based 
upon a thoroughly clear and intelligent view of sex. Sex, in 
the great majority of instances, is a much more casual and 
unimportant thing than it is customarily admitted to be. 
An idiotic conspiracy has sought, with almost uniform sue- 



THE NEW VIEW OF SEX 2^ 

cess, to make the world accept it as something of paramount 
consequence in the life of man, the ground of his happiness 
or unhappiness, of his triumph or defeat, of his joy or his 
affliction. Yet the reflective man has long known that it is 
nothing of the kind, that it is, as a matter of fact, of consid- 
erably less importance in his general scheme of life than, say, 
his tobacco or his wine-cellar. Sex is, purely and simply, the 
diversion of man, a pastime for his leisure hours and, as such, 
on the same plane with his other pleasures. The civilized man 
knows little difference between his bottle of vintage cham- 
pagne, his Corona Corona, his seat at the Follies and the 
gratification of his sex impulse. They all fall much under 
the same heading. He takes sex no whit more seriously than 
he takes, to put it superlatively, a symphony concert. He sees 
in it simply something always amusing and sometimes beau- 
tiful, and lets it go at that. 

Well, the world itself grows more and more civilized as 
century chases century down the alley of time and gradually 
it works itself up to the level of its more civilized inhabitants. 
And thus gradually the newer view of sex gains recruits 
And what men believe, women in due time also believe. I do 
not say that such beliefs are commendable, for I am no judge, 
but merely an historian. I simply say that so long as men and 
women merely felt about sex, it was what it was yesterday. 
The moment they began instead to think about it, it dropped 
its mourning and wove vine leaves about its head and 
painted its nose red. 

In the course of man's contemplation of sex, one phe- 
nomenon has gradually impressed itself upon his conscious- 
ness above all others, and it is this one phenomenon that, 
more than anything else, has influenced him in his present 
attitude toward the subject. That sex is a relatively trivial 
and inconsequential event in life, that it is of infinitely less 
permanent significance in his scheme of things than his work 
in the world, however humble the nature of that work, or 
than his material welfare or his physical comfort or, as I 



28 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

have hinted, even certain other of his diversions, is clearly 
borne in upon him after a meditation of the history of sex 
life as it has directly concerned him. 

One of the first things that strikes such a reflective man 
is the manner in which the brain cells themselves peculiarly 
operate to demote sex to a plane of unimportance. Such is the 
curious functioning of the male cerebral centers that the sex 
act, once it is so much as twenty-four hours past, quite passes 
from the memory or, at all events, from the direct conscious- 
ness. Although the fact, so far as I know, has never been 
articulated, it remains as an actuality that nothing is so 
quickly erased from masculine tablets of memory as the sex 
act accomplished. It is a mental idiosyncrasy, indeed, that 
the association of the act with a specific woman vanishes 
within an unbelievably short space of time, that so evanescent 
is the recollection that the woman actually seems a physical 
stranger to the man. What remains in the masculine mind is 
not the consciousness of the sex act, but only what may have 
proceeded from it, to wit, affection, companionship, friend- 
ship or spiritual, as opposed to physical, love. It is not an 
easy matter to set down delicately in type the most incom- 
prehensible degree to which this post-consciousness of sexual 
indulgence evaporates. Yet there is no man, if he will view 
himself honestly in the light of his experience, but will re- 
call at once the peculiar sense of remoteness that has gen- 
erally and quickly enveloped the woman with whom he has 
been on terms of physical intimacy. It would seem that na- 
ture, operating through the human mind, has contrived thus 
to make the world frequently a happier and more peaceful 
spot than it otherwise might be. In man's defective memory 
lies woman's symbol of chastity. 

If sex were the important event in a man's life that some 
hold it to be, his mind would surely be influenced by it quite 
differently than it is. A woman, instead of so quickly and 
unintelligibly taking on the aspect of a complete physical 



THE NEW VIEW OF SEX 2Q 

stranger to him, would remain fixed in his sex consciousness. 
Sex would surely retain a vividness after its performance 
that it actually does not retain. Yet such is the baffling 
drollery of human nature that a man's wife ever seems to him 
a virgin. 



II 

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SEX 



THE SEX IMPULSE IN MAN l 

By Jacques Fischer 

EXAMPLES have shown us that in the animal kingdom the 
sex impulse is indeed, as we had foreseen, dependent upon 
external forces, acting either directly or by the agency of 
the internal organic environment. 

The most elementary observation enables us to establish 
that the sex impulse in man is the sum of a sex impulse anal- 
ogous to that of other living creatures, and of superadded 
phenomena peculiar to mankind alone. In man we may write 
it down mathematically that the sexual impulse, or cerebral 
reaction accompanying love ~ the sexual impulse of the ani- 
mal + superadded phenomena. 

We have to study the different terms of this equation 
separately, before trying to understand the problem as a 
whole. 

In this paragraph we may marshal the whole of the im- 
pulses directly determined by bio-chemical reactions and 
cyclic influences. 

We may recall that the very nature of our working method 
obliges us to dissociate, as far as we possibly can, all the 
facts which it is our intention to examine. It is only by appli- 
cation of this old Cartesian principle that it will be possible 
for us to find our way through this still badly explored chaos. 

We at once see that these common sex impulses offer cer- 
tain obvious points of almost perfect comparison, but that 
for the most part there are remarkable differences which 
make it difficult entirely to assimilate the general sex im- 
pulse to that of man, even if we only desire to examine 

1 From Love and Morality. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 
1927. 

33 



34 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

under this name that part of our impulses which seem at 
first sight to be in undoubted connection with what ob- 
servation has enabled us to establish in the case of other liv- 
ing creatures. 

Since man cannot be classified like any other animal, and 
presents individual characteristics which cannot be denied, 
we believe that in the interests of clear exposition it will be 
well first to examine in what respects our sex impulses differ 
from those of outer beings, and afterwards to make a study 
of the points common to both which consequently persist in 
us, as a store of "sex impulses.'' 

The reasons for which it is impossible for man to be re- 
garded as an animal obeying the usual laws of sex can be 
classified under several heads. 

1) The cycle recurrence of sexual excitement has been 
practically abolished in man ; and, side by side with this, the 
idea of reproduction has become separated in him from the 
idea of love. 

2) The periods of generation in man are not divided in 
the same clear-cut fashion as in the case of animals. 

3) The conditions of life are not analogous for all men, 
as they generally are for all animals of the same family. 

4) Under the common term "man" we include a whole 
series of races which can probably be differentiated by the 
bio-chemical characters of their tissues. 

5 ) Derangements of the sex impulse in man are the cause 
of the production in him of a peculiar phenomenon, which we 
shall call erotomania. 

i. Modification in the periodicity of the sex impulse in 
man. 

This difference at once forces itself upon our attention. In 
the animal the sex instinct is manifested in an overwhelm- 
ingly powerful form at well-defined periods, which are special 
to every kind. The force of this impulse is such that it may 
impel the animal to sacrifice its life without hesitation in 



THE SEX IMPULSE IN MAN 35 

order to obey this law, which has acquired the overwhelming 
force of an instinct. 

In man, on the contrary, the sex impulse rarely occurs 
in such a violent form, but, on the other hand, it is apt to be 
set in motion at any moment. There are of course circum- 
stances in which the sex impulse also occurs in the form of 
an irresistible wave of instinct. We will speak of these mani- 
festations later. But it is undeniable that in many cases a 
clear-cut distinction may be established between the cyclic 
phenomena of sexual impulse in the animal, and the continu- 
ally recurrent sex impulses of man. So that man has at his 
disposal two sources of reaction to sexual thoughts. Why is 
man not content with the law of instinct, the cyclic periods of 
sexual excitement, outside of which he would remain like 
the other animals, absolutely indifferent to all ideas of love? 

In man there only subsist traces of a cyclic urge: The sea- 
sonal sexual excitement of the spring, and sometimes a com< 
plementary impulse in the autumn. But it is very probable? 
that there were originally clearly determined periods during 
which the human being was under the influence of the se* 
impulse. 

Physiological laws being the same for all animals, we may 
regard it as beyond dispute that these periods coincided with 
the lunar cycle and corresponded with the menstrual periods 
of the female. Consequently the period intended by the laws 
of nature for the exercise of the functions of human repro- 
duction recurred every twenty-eight days, and lasted from 
two to four days. 

This was the normal, regular law, that of all other animals, 
and the sole peculiarity which it offered in man was that of 
a comparatively frequent recurrence. Morever, we seem to 
find in woman supplementary phenomena of slight utero- 
ovarian congestion returning at intervals which cut the lunar 
month almost in two. Under the influence of propitious ex- 
ternal conditions, it ought to be possible to produce at that 
moment, in connection with a slight utero-ovarian internal 



36 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

hyper secretion, a momentary upset of the endocrine equi- 
librium of the individual, which might bring about a result 
identical with that of the menstrual flow that is to say, a 
short slight supplementary period of sexual excitement. 

We know that the biological laws of a species never apply 
to all its members in a strictly and brutally identical manner ; 
there are always individual differences. Consequently, while 
sex impulses were exactly subject to the lunar cycle, we can 
observe a certain upsetting of this in the females of the hu- 
man race. In most races of animals this individual disturb- 
ance, this sort of oscillation around the fixed period at which 
sexual excitement ought to take place, was only of small im- 
portance. Whereas in a herd of animals subject to a seasonal 
sexual excitement, occurring yearly or twice yearly, a period 
of a fortnight might be found necessary for the sex impulse 
to make itself felt in all the females in succession, this simply 
obliges the males to devote themselves almost completely dur- 
ing this fortnight to the functions of reproduction. But dur- 
ing all the rest of the year, normal life was resumed, entirely 
independent of any sexual disturbance, and on the whole, 
the disturbance in the social life of the herd had been as small 
as possible. 

We can easily understand why the same was not the case 
with man. Individual variations, which were insignificant in 
the case of species having the period of sexual excitement re- 
curring at long intervals, assumed, on the contrary, the high- 
est importance in man, an animal with frequently recurring 
periods of love. In the primitive tribe, the females were under 
the influence of menstrual excitement, not all at once, but at 
intervals preceding or following by a few days the fateful 
date of the return of the lunar month ; the total period during 
which sexual excitement prevailed among the women of the 
tribe encroached to a noticeable extent upon the interval of 
twenty-eight days. This disturbance was automatically trans- 
ferred to the intermediate phenomenon of ovarian congestion, 
and here again a sort of minor period of sexual excitement 



THE SEX IMPULSE IN MAN 31 

extended both before and after the intermediate fourteenth 
day. So that in consequence of these encroachments which 
tended to meet, the periods during which the females of our 
first ancestral tribe were capable of experiencing the sex im- 
pulse ended by forming an almost uninterrupted succession 
during the whole month. Every female, it is obvious, was only 
under the influence of sex during a short period, which did 
not coincide with that of her sisters. But the male or males 
of the tribe were constantly surrounded with females in a 
state of sexual excitement. 

The male was in a different position. He had preserved 
the physiological traditions of his ancestors monkey or 
reptile much better. In him the sexual flow manifested its 
chief activity in the springtime, in accordance with a great 
natural law; and a secondary activity of less importance in 
the autumn, according to the generally accepted rule of sea- 
sonal equipoise. It is extremely probable that if the female 
had been subject to physiological influences of an equally ab- 
solute nature, the sex impulse in man would have followed 
rules analogous to that of other animals. 

But a new complication arose, due to the actual composi- 
tion of this primitive tribe, which generally consisted of a 
single male living in polygamy with a certain number of fe- 
males. It seems indeed to be admitted though this is only 
a hypothesis which cannot be tested that a few couples were 
at once formed. The father made a selection from among the 
children born of every union : he killed or drove out the sons, 
in order to avoid all subsequent sexual competition, and kept 
the girls, who constituted his harem. The operation continued 
with the new r -born sons of the second generation, until the 
head of the tribe was abandoned by both virility and life. 

During this time the sons who had been driven out banded 
together in hordes, satisfying their sex impulses by homo- 
sexualism or the common possession of some female who had 
fallen into their power by chance. This lasted until the sons 
could surprise and kill the father, share the females, who were 



38 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

their mothers and sisters, and found a new social order, which 
has lasted down to our time. 

We can understand how many strange consequences may 
have arisen from the compulsory polygamy reigning in the 
primitive horde which only possessed one male, the chief 
of the tribe. The only male in the horde was obliged to re- 
nounce his primitive habits of cyclic sexual practices, in 
order to adapt himself to his numerous females; and this 
meant that he was obliged to respond to feminine solicita- 
tions during almost the whole time between two menstrual 
periods. So that, during the process of development of the 
race, the male was accustomed to being in a state of con- 
stant sexual excitement, and the primitive cyclic influences, 
which had at first been the rule, only continued in him as an 
additional stimulation, the influence of which only appears 
in very peculiar cases: as, for instance, in that of males de- 
prived of females, or that of seasonal influences, a sort of 
chemical menstruation, which may be compared to the fer- 
mentation set up in wine when vintage time comes round 
again. 

This new tradition of the species became gradually fixed 
by insensible changes. It was transmitted by heredity, and 
took on the characteristics, first of a habit, then of an in- 
stinct; and thus it became the rule, or rather the cause of 
the absence of a rule, controlling sexual excitement in the 
male human being. 

For their part, the females did not long remain subject to a 
well-defined cyclic impulse. The fact that none of them hap- 
pened to be at the same degree of sexual excitement at the 
same time was the reason why they did not observe any well- 
defined and incontrovertible laws of the species. Moreover, 
the excessive closeness of the possible sexual periods coin- 
tided with the fact that the menstruation of women is sub- 
ject to individual variations, and can occur several days 
earlier or later. In these circumstances, the periods of sexual 
excitement were themselves disorganized, and a species of 



THE SEX IMPULSE IN MAN 39 

zones of physiological interference were set up, answering to 
a sort of intermediate sexual stage which was neither that of 
sexual excitement nor of dormant sexuality, but had some of 
the qualities of both. We may realize what must have been 
the influence in these cases of accessory external phenomena, 
such as the desire of the male (who was unable exactly to 
know the physiological state of the female, and made ad- 
vances to her during one of these periods), jealousy of other 
females, or merely any other simple physiological cause: 
More abundant food, variation of temperature, etc. 

It may be understood that in these conditions the brutal 
law of sex impulse in immediate relation with menstruation 
tended gradually to disappear. The sensitiveness of the utero- 
ovarian apparatus of the woman soon made it possible, as 
soon as human society and an embryonic civilization were 
constituted, to substitute a sort of psychological sexual ex- 
citement for the original physiological one, or at least to add 
to the latter supplementary ones destined to allow the sex 
impulse to develop during the inter menstrual periods. 

These psychological excitations thought, imagination, all 
those phenomena of which we have tried to demonstrate the 
purely physiological origin succeeded in bringing about in 
the second place modifications in the internal secretions of 
the genito-ovarian organs, which are exquisitely sensitive to 
external reactions. As a result of this, substances analogous 
to those which are poured into the blood at periods of sexual 
excitation were able to be produced, and poured into the 
blood-stream, so as to create an endocrine equilibrium similar 
to that existing at the time of menstruation, and capable of 
bringing about the same cerebral reactions, that is to say, the 
sex impulse and the secondary idea of love. 

We may begin to see how, by a sort of double and con- 
tradictory reaction, the man and the woman came to re- 
nounce the primitive physiological law common to all na- 
ture, that of a sexual urge occurring at regular cyclic periods* 
and limited to a short space of time, outside of which tha 



JO SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

anirnal,, the plant, and perhaps even the mineral, are in a 
state of sexual sleep. The human being, on the contrary, has 
ended by suppressing the periodic character of the sex im- 
pulse, and only traces of primitive influences are found in 
him ; the seasonal sexual excitement taking place in man, in 
the spring, the excessive development of sexuality in the 
woman at the moment of menstruation. It may further be 
noted that, as a result of the evolution of ideas, it is precisely 
this menstrual period which has been eliminated from the 
active period of human love. 

It is as a result of these constant changes in the order ex- 
isting primitively in our sex impulses that we have arrived at 
that state of anarchy which characterizes the human species 
with regard to the organization of its reproductive functions. 
In animals, the fixing of the cycle of reproduction in an im- 
mutable form is a law which nobody can or will disobey; 
reproduction is the final act towards which all the activities 
of the species converge; it seems to be the sole reason of the 
life of individuals. Very often the sexual act is only accom- 
plished once during the existence of the animal, and fre- 
quently coincides with its death, either because the exhaustion 
caused by coition brings about such a rapid physical degen- 
eration that the animal cannot survive, or because coition 
is itself obligatorily accompanied by an enormous mutilation, 
and brings about death (as in the drone, which leaves its 
penis and genital glands in the sexual apparatus of the fe- 
male), or because for some obscure reason the male can- 
not effect conjugation with the female without risking being 
almost certainly put to death by her (the spider, praying 
mantis, etc.). 

In all animals the sex instinct is an absolute law which 
is never disobeyed, whatever may be the results of accom- 
plishment of this duty. And we may also note that in each 
of these species the sex impulse is cyclic and only occupies 
part of the animal's life. In man, on the contrary, the sex 
impulse is continual, obeys no fixed law, and has no character 



THE SEX IMPULSE IN MAN 41 

of inevitable necessity. Finally, and perhaps this is the most 
important point, the sex impulse is so separate from the 
idea of reproduction that this latter seems to be no more 
than a superadded phenomenon, occurring mostly by chance, 
and in most people only connected with the idea of the sex 
impulse in virtue of the ideas of duty or personal satisfac- 
tion. It is only in a few that it is due to the action of a 
fund of instinct which is not yet quite destroyed. 

Man, then, is an animal who, in this particular point of 
reproduction, has freed himself from the laws of instinct, and 
lives on the outskirts of natural law. 

For the time being, let us bear in mind that there are 
endocrine stimuli in men which give rise to sexual thoughts 
in him. But the part played by these bio-chemical excitants 
has been complicated by the revolt of man against the great 
cyclic law of sexual excitement in animals; and we very often 
have difficulty in evading this organic influence, which will, 
moreover, always be present, directing our thoughts and ac- 
tions, no longer by the logic of animal instinct, but by an 
individual fancy which is sometimes regrettable. 

2. Disturbances of the sex impulse brought about by the 
continuous succession of births in the human race, and 
secondarily, by different conditions of life for different in- 
dividuals. 

This breach of the natural cyclic law of sexual excitement 
not only shows us the possibility of individualism in sexual 
thought and, it goes without saying, the hesitation which we 
may now feel with regard to precise value of a morality ap- 
plied to ideas whose formation is brought about by uni- 
formly individual reactions; but it enables us to foresee an- 
other inevitable consequence: the physiological fulfillment of 
the sex impulse, reproduction, will not take place in man at 
clearly defined periods; his young will not all be born in 
successive batches, in one or more annual broods; but fer- 
tilization may, on the contrary, take place at any time ; man 
is not an animal living together, like the others, in groups of 



42 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

individuals of the same age, and likely to react in an identical 
manner to the internal influences of organs formed under 
the same conditions. His sex impulse will differ from the 
general laws for a whole group of reasons. 

In the first place, physical reasons: 

Unlike other animals the new generations of mankind will 
not arrive in compact series, born and dying at about the 
same time. The scattering of the sex impulse over the whole 
course of the year will involve constant fertilization, and, in 
a group of some size, daily births. 

In mankind there will, consequently, not be a series of 
young ones, subject simultaneously to influences at once 
hereditary and rhythmical, which will bring on the period 
of sexual excitement at the same time. Moreover, the con- 
stitution of human society will be such that the family or 
tribe containing but few individuals will no longer be the 
social rule. 

Among the insects, society will be composed of one, two or 
three generations at the outside, the oldest members of which 
all disappear together almost contemporaneously with the 
birth of a new generation. 

Among the animals, whose life is longer, there are, so to 
speak, autonomous generations, that is to say, the young ones 
belonging to the same litter, or born at the same time, will 
not continue to live with their parents for very long, and 
will soon separate from them to form a new family or tribe 
composed of individuals of the same age. 

In man, on the contrary, the successive generations will all 
live together, a society will at one and the same time include 
individuals ninety years of age and sucklings; there will not, 
as among a society of animals, be four or five distinct gen- 
erations, but there will be, on the contrary, an almost in- 
finite series of individuals born at intervals of a few days 
or months. 

We can understand that the division of^ a society of ani- 
mals into four or five generations, consisting of identical 



THE SEX IMPULSE IN MAN 43 

individuals, will have a strong influence upon the possibility 
of four or five waves of sex impulse, resembling one an- 
other in their instinctive element, and only differing as re- 
gards the part due to external influences, which is proper 
to the development of each generation. 

We should have here four or five completely analogous, or 
almost identical, waves of sex impulse, and we might say 
four or five sexual moralities, which might differ slightly, 
but which, in the probable case of the external causes of life 
being identical, would approach one another so closely, that 
in practice, we may fuse them, and be led to see one single, 
mighty sex impulse characteristic of the species, and apply- 
ing to the animal tribe as a whole. 

Conditions are different in a human society, and an unin- 
terrupted series of births will break the animal harmony. 
The most serious result of this state of things, from the 
physiological point of view, will be that, from the point of 
view of sexual maturity, in the first case, man will not be 
at the stage of a mass development of the sex impulse, 
brought about by a vast, mighty current, such as that which 
provokes the physiological reflexes of love at the same mo- 
ment in a whole generation of animals. Lost in the midst 
of a mass of individuals, not of his own age, having rela- 
tions with only a small number of other organisms at the 
same stage of functional development, man will not be very 
favorably circumstanced for the accomplishment of his sexual 
evolution together with those individuals of his generation, in 
physical, physiological and rhythmical harmony with whom 
he ought logically to make love. 

The idea of instinct will here be dimmed and masked by 
psychological impulses deriving, indeed, from the sex impulse, 
but often distorted and transposed by extraneous ideas and 
associated phenomena of thought; the law of rhythm and in- 
stinct ought irresistibly to impel the individuals of a genera 
tion to make love only with the other members of this gen 



44 oEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

eration; but it is often deranged by social considerations, or 
even by what are called moral questions. 

Other causes intervene, of which we have already spoken: 
there ceases to be a seasonal recurrence of sexual excitement, 
there is a partial forgetting or at least a vitiation of the func- 
tion of reproduction, the supreme and only object of the sex 
impulse in other animals. 

Man likewise manifests some morphological differences, 
some particularly important variations in outward appear- 
ance. In a whole section of the animal kingdom (insects, 
Crustacea, etc.), the formation of an outer shell may have 
reduced these differences to a minimum. They are generally 
inconsiderable among the vertebrata, and it is only in man 
that they acquire a very noticeable importance, of such a 
nature that its repercussion upon the sex impulse may have 
consequences into which it is useless to enter. 

In a beehive, all the individuals are brothers and sisters, 
and consequently, their physiological constitution is likely 
to be as similar as possible. In man, on the contrary, the in- 
dividuality of the tissues and internal organs is carried very 
far. Moreover, hereditary ailments (various diatheses, syphi- 
lis, etc.) may also intervene to increasethis individuality of 
the tissues. Our sex impulse will, then, be subject to extra- 
neous influences unknown to the other species. Here we shall 
have a probable fresh cause of disorders proper to man, which 
lead us naturally to the conception of another of those disso- 
ciations of thought which are necessary for our study: man, 
homo sapiens, is a collective term, under which are included 
species which are different from the point of view of physio- 
logical reactions, and will consequently have a dissimilar 
psychological activity. 

All these differences, working upon the constitution of the 
tissues and the chemical composition of the blood, end by 
creating individuals who hardly resemble one another in any- 
thing save their outer envelope. A whole body of external 
influences, food and clothing, still further aggravates these 



THE SEX IMPULSE IN MAN 45 

differences. The conditions of life have a profound reper- 
cussion upon these organisms, which have ceased to be per- 
fectly similar. 

In a beehive, all the inhabitants are born at the same time, 
and react in an identical manner to outward influences, cold, 
heat, abundance or lack of food: there is only one sex impulse 
for one and the same race. But in man there may be many 
reasons which prevent this simultaneity of sensations: 

1 ) Though the conditions of life are the same for a whole 
race, it is composed of individuals of different ages, that is to 
say, in effect, of tissues at more or less advanced stages of 
development, and organs either embryonic or at the height 
of their activity, or perhaps, in the end hardened by old 
age. 

The action of external influences, however identical, may 
be manifested in these individuals by different organic re- 
actions; and the secondary result will be that even their 
psychological reactions will have no reseifiblance. In the par- 
ticular case which interests us, we can conceive of the exist- 
ence of an infinite number of sex impulses, varying almost 
with every creature. In practice, to render our classification 
clear, we may group certain of these impulses together, and 
collect those which are not too different in the same class. 
It is the age of the organs and the state of their activity 
which we shall use in order to make these distinctions, and 
we may already foresee that, from the bio-chemical point of 
view, we shall no longer have to regard the human race as a 
well-defined species, but as a collection of sub-species char- 
acterized in accordance with their histological or glandular 
coefficient. 

2 ) A second cause of differentiation between the individu- 
als composing the human race arises from the fact that we 
must pursue our argument still further, and establish the 
fact that these sub-species themselves, grouped according to 
age, are not homogeneous. The same tissue, the same colloidal 
jelly, will have variable reactions according to the modifica' 



46 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

tions of its external environment. Subjects of the same age,, 
though analogous to one another in their glandular func- 
tions, will manifest considerable variations in the compo- 
sition of their blood (and, in consequence, of their psy- 
chology and sex impulses) according as they are exposed to 
cold or heat, or as they are well or badly nourished. 

An infinite number of sub-species will thus be constantly 
created and destroyed. These individual variations, due to 
external reactions, will be of small importance in those ani- 
mals which, like the insects, develop inside an armor of chitin. 
This separates them fairly well from the outer world, and 
withdraws them from most of its influences, and this almost 
indestructible rigidity of the external covering of their body 
ensures them a certain autonomy, which explains why, as 
experience shows us, the sex impulse will be almost constant 
for all the members of the same generation. 

The case is different for those animals which build up 
their soft, plastic outward covering, which separates them 
from the outer world, upon the solid framework of a skele- 
ton running through the interior of the body. It is curious 
to note that of the membranes enclosing the embryo, the 
endoderm and mesoderm go to make up the internal part 
of the creature, while the ectoderm serves to form both the 
superficial region, which separates the individual from the 
outer world, and that unit which is formed by the brain and 
the nervous system. 

The part of the creature, then, which reacts directly to 
outside influences has the same origin as the brain. The plas- 
tic differences in the corporeal envelope will correspond to 
similar variations in weight, and in the chemical constitution 
of the brains of the series of human beings, and this may 
also explain to us why a sex impulse which is automic in an 
insect, which wears its skeleton outside it, becomes auton- 
omous in man, who has an inner skeleton. 

The possible repercussion of the bio-chemical properties 
of a being upon its sexual character may be illustrated by 



THE SEX IMPULSE IN MAN 47 

phenomena observable in plants and animals during the act 
of reproduction, which constitutes in them the very basis of 
the sex impulse. 

By effecting cross-fertilization between an Aramon and a 
Teinturier vine-stock, Armand Gautier produced a new sort 
of vine, the Petit Bouschet. Now in studying a coloring pig- 
ment contained in the leaf of the latter a substance be- 
longing to the pyrocatechin family he ascertained that its 
formula was made up precisely by the addition of the for- 
mulae of the catechins in the two original plants. A new race, 
then, can be created under the direct influence of a chemical 
combination, in the same way as the formation of animal 
hybrids can be almost mathematically controlled. As we know 
that for this reproduction it is not necessary to take into ac- 
count the somatic cells of the animal, that is to say, those 
which constitute its body, but only its germinative cells, we 
can see that here again experimental bio-chemistry will play 
a preponderating part in the formation of the new being, the 
hybrid, which will, in short, be the result of unexpected 
chemical interactions between the substances composing the 
two original germs, between the male and female germ 
plasms* 

We can see what a powerful influence these different re- 
actions may have upon the human race, which we have al- 
ready regarded as split up into sub-species, according to the 
age or conditions of life of its members. Personal chemical 
influences will further step in to complete this splitting-up 
of the race. In the end we shall be a long way from the 
physiological and chemical homogeneity which is manifested 
by a colony of bees ; so we need not be surprised if in the 
latter the sex impulse is an instinctive, collective manifesta- 
tion, whereas in man there are various forms of sex instinct 
corresponding to the sub-races of mankind which can almost 
be distinguished. Experience will easily disclose to us the 
existence of these special, peculiar races in the great tribe 
of mankind; differences of country or color will no longer 



48 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

serve as the basis of this classification, but rather a particular 
physiological condition, a certain bio-chemical make-up of 
the organism. Our unreasoning sympathies, attractions or re- 
pulsions show us that we really act as if, among the vast 
human flock, we only felt a physiological kinship with a few 
individuals. It is very probable that to an observer possessed 
of vision of a kind unlike that of man, a collection of men 
for instance, the population of a city would be distin- 
guishable into a certain number of well-differentiated kinds; 
just as we are enabled to classify in separate families the 
ants which we may by chance come upon mingled together. 

Each of these human races will have a sex impulse cor- 
responding to its histological and bio-chemical character- 
istics. The species as a whole will obey certain great general 
common laws, which we shall try to bring out later. But we 
have still to examine a last element of discord: it is only in 
man that the sex impulse is capable of undergoing derange- 
ments which may go to the lengths of erotomania. 

We have seen that it has been possible to establish a vague 
classification of the human races, and to attribute to certain 
groups sex impulses which are almost similar for the whole 
of their members: it is this, indeed, which is the very foun- 
dation of various kinds of sexual morality. But man, viewed 
as an animal, revolted at the outset against the great cyclic 
law of the sex impulse: these very classifications which we 
are bound to make show how impossible it was to admit 
a single and universally valid law. 

This revolt will be renewed in the sub-species which we 
have considered. Each of them has a peculiar impulse which 
seems to govern its sexual life. But these are only approxima- 
tions: in these smaller groups represented by the sub-species, 
certain individuals, under a complication of influences, may 
revolt, and reject the sexual law. The causes of this insubordi- 
nation may be many: modification of external conditions, 
reminiscences of the habits of ancestors or even of the ani- 
mals which are doubtless the creators of our race a return 



THE SEX IMPULSE IN MAN 49 

to the morals of some old totem animal, etc. All this may 
suddenly bring about an occurrence which generally pre- 
sents itself in the following form: individuals who have lived 
for many years a life in which the sex impulses have been 
rigidly under the control of psycho-moral influences find 
themselves suddenly and irresistibly carried away as though 
by a sort of sexual ground swell. All control becomes im- 
possible to them, and they are bound to obey an all-powerful 
command coming from the depths of their unconscious self. 
These facts afford a good characterization for defining the 
human race. A bee will never disobey the sex impulse of the 
race; though we may sometimes notice some aberrations (for 
example, an excessive number of male eggs), which appear at 
first sight to approximate to those of man, a more careful 
examination will at once show us that we are here concerned 
not with individual acts, but with a collective disorder, defi- 
nitely determined by a modification of outward conditions. 
In the case we have cited all the bees in a hive, under the 
influence of insufficient nourishment, will begin to modify the 
feeding of the larvae, and bring about the hatching of a far 
more considerable number of males. It is never an unex- 
pected, or, as we might say, fanciful aberration, such as is 
often produced in man by attacks of erotomania. 

The study of this form of mania is important, for it en- 
ables us to arrive at an idea as to how individual physio- 
logical reactions may be reflected in the formation of 
thoughts, and we must attempt to solve this problem on a 
bio-chemical basis. 



THE FREUDIAN EMPHASIS ON SEX 1 

By Samuel D. Schmalhausen 

No criticism has been more often hurled at Freud than 
that he has stressed sex too much. The very insistence and 
universality of the criticism make one feel as if it were 
reasonably true. But, in another sense, the criticism is a 
dodge, sheer evasion. The dramatist uses a method of theatric 
condensation of experience which is intended to secure effec- 
tive attention to a segment of experience. Not only is the 
dramatist not censured for this literal falsification of reality, 
he is, on the contrary, hailed as ingenious and creative if he 
is really able to make reality more vividly real by his dramatic 
exaggeration and theatric intensity. Freud as an artist in 
the subtle field of new ideas has indulged the luxury of 
dramatic falsification for the sake of imparting to the 
reluctant and resistant conventional mind the profound truth 
about the role of sex in civilization. 

At any rate, Freud's high-power emphasis on sex has per- 
suaded a whole world to pay attention to obscure realities 
long denied as non-existent (or at least unworthy of ex- 
istence) and now more easily confronted as too important to 
be neglected by those who would call themselves enlightened. 
In this amazing sense, the Freudian emphasis on sex may 
almost be said to have created a new psychology of atten- 
tion. No one possessed of a flexible mind can longer evade the 
truths first probed and published by Sigmund Freud, latterly 
acknowledged to be one of the world's great geniuses. Part 
of his genius lay in his knowledge of how to impart to a 
squeamish and shamefaced mankind those fundamental in- 

1 From Why We Misbehave. New York: The Macaulay Com- 
pany, 1928. 



THE FREUDIAN EMPHASIS ON SEX $1 

sights into "the buried life" which a hypocritical morality, 
a humorlessly puritanic Weltanschauung, had completely 
ostracized as beneath the dignity of the conscious rational 
mind. 

What new knowledge may be attributed to Freudian psy- 
choanalysis? It is foolish to assert that any man, however 
great, can create a whole body of knowledge all by himself. 
There are always speculations and findings, delvings and 
procedures that form a kind of prelude to any apparently new 
branch of learning. In short, a true perspective can always 
discover a history of flowing facts in which the novel insights 
will be imbedded. So with the Freudian wisdom. Acknowl- 
edging as much, one may permissibly insist that certain 
psycho-sexual discoveries are Freudian in the momentous 
sense of having been given a powerful status in the world of 
thought only with the enunciation of psychoanalytic prin- 
ciples and procedures. 

For example, who had ever heard of infantile sexuality 
as a widespread reality of the utmost significance for the 
evolution of the erotic life? Who had ever even begun dimly 
to realize the amount of auto-erotic behavior there is in 
childhood? Though a phrase like "polymorphous perverse" 
sounds grotesque enough to be humorous, the humor is some- 
what abated in the presence of the sexual realties underlying, 
The interest of little children in urinating and defecating has 
frequently enough sexual contexts and complications that 
may drag with them into maturity obsessions, anxieties, com- 
pulsions, that plague the psychoneurotic of a certain species. 

How many persons, before the Freudian ascendancy, pos- 
sessed the keenness to perceive in "crushes" a form of homo- 
sexuality, albeit rather innocent in the milder cases, and any- 
thing but innocent in certain other cases? How does it happen 
that the world has suddenly awakened to the startlingly wide 
existence among persons of high and low degree of homo- 
sexual attachments? Whatever is scientific and sane in our 
new attitude toward masturbation is almost wholly traceable 



52 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

to the courageous insistence of the psychoanalysts that auto- 
erotic practices constitute an inevitable phase of normal sex 
life. 

What generations of young men and young women have 
suffered in private humiliation and remorse and shame and 
anxiety amounting to torture, it is difficult to visualize now 
that the life of youth has been freed from the horrible burden 
of self-accusation, of unclean conscience pangs, in the pres- 
ence of a sexual behavior that is, under certain conditions of 
stress and strain, as natural and inevitable as breathing, exer- 
cising, dreaming, and kissing. The psychoanalysts are wise in 
simply having removed auto-erotism from the superstitious 
background of private self-indulgence, shameful and painful, 
and given it a simple unworried status of biologic urgency 
under certain perfectly human conditions of stimulation and 
tension. The light of publicity that has been shed upon this 
universal habit of the sexes has helped to ventilate the matter 
and to give it a scientific status at once wholesome and sane. 
The evil of masturbation could certainly not arise from the 
physical relief consequent upon unbearable tension; it must 
have resulted from the anxiety and brooding shame accom- 
panying such self-conscious behavior, by its nature sneaky, 
awkward, and rather humiliating to one's personal sense of 
free will and self-control which were being so obviously put 
in jeopardy. 

As an American poet and philosopher, Max Eastman, has 
generously written: "Freud has made himself a wise and 
wonderful scientist of sex, and has given a gift of illumina- 
tion to the world not second to that which Hobbes gave, and 
so we can forgive him if he somewhat overstrains the gen- 
eralization, and tends to carry us back to a contemplation of 
oneness almost as bad as that of the sickly mystics whom he 
knows how to cure. He has at least lifted a great incubus of 
shame from the shoulders of humanity, and given the boon 
of candor to a poor animal desperately endeavoring to become 



THE FREUDIAN EMPHASIS ON SEX 53 

The concepts introduced by the psychoanalytic way of 
thinking have not only given a new lease of life to psy- 
chiatry and psychopathology, but have insidiously under- 
mined the abstractionist foundations of academic psychology 
with the utterly wholesome result that psychology nowadays, 
to be treated seriously, must be drastically dynamic. The 
psychiatrizing of academic psychology constitutes a revolt 
tion in itself, in the sedate halls of learning. No significant 
psychology written within the past ten years by an academl 
cal has failed to pay tribute (honorable or dishonorable) to 
Freudian insights. Illuminating concepts like infantile sex- 
uality, mother fixation, narcissism, homosexual attachment, 
rationalization, complex, libido, compulsion, psychoneurotic, 
dream interpretation, the unconscious, have shed a wonderful 
light on the obscurer motivations of men, revealing layers of 
desire in the troubled deeps of the subconscious mind to 
which the classic psychologists were for the most part gravel- 
blind. 

Is it not inappropriate to ask why so dramatic and vital 
a reality as sex had been evaded so successfully by genera- 
tions of philosophers, psychologists, medical men, thinkers in 
general? In retrospect the omission seems incredible. On the 
reasonable assumption that philosophers as a class were 
sexually a feeble brood, that psychologists were impotent or 
at least squeamish and repressed, that medical men labored 
under a theologic burden of shame and fear, that thinkers in 
general lacked the courage to confront their own human 
nature realistically, only on some such assumptions is it at 
all possible to understand the long neglect of a field of human 
reality more significant and interesting than any to which 
these experts had been giving their brilliant and often quite 
sterile devotion. 

Another point of approach is the realization of man's 
childish delight in make-believe which he refers to as ideal- 
ism. Man does not find it easy to absorb reality. The reason 
is clear at length. Reality represents disharmony, imperfec- 



54 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

tion, evil. His infantile imagination creates a private universe 
in which harmony, perfection, good, rule as the holy trinity 
of the inner life. When confronted with the contradiction 
between his private imaginary universe and the public realistic 
world, his first tendency is to deny objective reality and to 
slide back into the comfort and reaffirmation of subjectivism. 
The ancient dualism between idealism and realism resolves 
itself into the conflict between infantile make-believe and 
mature disillusionment. Once we perceive how deeply rooted 
in his childish theatric nature is the disposition to accept illu- 
sion and to deny or flee from disillusion, we shall be close 
to the heart of the matter: pretense soothes the mind of man, 
reality disturbs it. 

In relation to professional thinkers, the professors and 
the academicians, a special selective tendency is at work 
to assign positions of importance in our institutions of learn- 
ing to those persons whose human nature is not richly en- 
dowed emotionally. No man has ever been selected for a 
university job on the ground of his exceeding compassion 
for his fellow men. No woman has ever been honored with a 
professorship because of her loyalty to love. Men and women 
whose human nature is intense, emotionally sincere, erotically 
lyrical, sympathetically deep, are simply declasse. Our in- 
stitutions of learning are houses of refuge for men and 
women who are emotionally unfit for any of the more vigorous 
and realistic burdens of life: chalk-laden pedagogues, ped- 
dlers of anaemic platitudes, sterile grammarians, cowardly 
passionless humans all. 

The point of interest is to observe how these anaemic 
professors are flirting with the realistic sexual interpretations 
of Freud and gradually, by the indirection and left-handed- 
ness congenial to academicals, are becoming the interested 
victims of the psychoanalytical ways of thinking. Evil, that 
is, life, always ill at ease in the academic groves, has of 
late begun to feel surprisingly at home in that make-believe 
environment. Freud (quite innocently) has made evil so 



THE FREUDIAN EMPHASIS ON SEX 55 

fascinating that the more sprightly of the professors find his 
subject-matter as attractive as the forbidden passages in 
Shakespeare which as sophomores they had no moral right 
to read, and therefore, digested with an almost indecent 
avidity, on the sly. Psychology, even academic psychology, 
has had color and vivacity and galvanic shock imparted to it 
by the vital impulse of psychoanalysis. Freud has humanized 
psychology. 

Why were we all so loath to believe that sex manifests 
itself in earliest infancy? Why was it more congenial to be- 
lieve that the sex instinct is non-existent until puberty ar- 
rives? Why in general did we find it consoling to think that 
sex belongs to maturity and can be safely neglected in in- 
fancy and in childhood and possibly in early adolescence? 
I suppose our unclean attitude toward sex is in large part 
responsible for our blindness and psychologic obtuseness. 
Then, too, our ignorant assumption that sex behavior cannot 
occur until a certain stage in physiologic maturity has been 
attained was somewhat responsible for our silly philosophy 
of innocence. Nor must we neglect the influence upon our 
make-believe thinking of the moralistic conception of chil- 
dren (in particular, our own) as little angels, innocent 
darlings sprung from the chaste head of God, incapable of 
evil, that is, of sexuality. It was refreshing to believe that we 
were innocent once, in our infancy, however guilty we might 
feel now in our corrupt maturity! 

Thanks to the evil influence of Christian morality (that 
is, of hypocrisy), we all surrendered to the foolish belief that 
sex was something to be ashamed of. What could be more 
natural, in view of this belief, than to falsify the simple 
lustful reality of conception, to cleanse childbirth of its sinful 
origin, to think of children as sexless (the compensation for 
our unforgettable knowledge of their sexual begetting), 
Thanks to Freud, we have become more vigorous, more hon- 
est, more intelligent, and best of all, more humble. If 
Freudianism had done nothing else than cleanse our hypo- 



56 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

critical and prurient minds of the poison ethics of shame, all 
mankind (and even more truly, all womankind) would be 
Freud's eternal debtor. We are no longer ashamed of sen- 
suality, appreciating in a new and exhilarating sense the 
marvelous meanings resident in sexual potency. 

Recently some experiments in the field of animal psy- 
chology have added surprising bits of new knowledge to our 
store. It had been taken for granted that nature once for all 
had laid down certain enduring reaction patterns which de- 
served, because of their universality and stability, to be 
called instincts. Instincts appeared to be modes of behavior 
beyond the power of man to tamper with, as he might with 
habits, for example. Instincts were assumed to be wholly 
unlearned reactions and therefore fundamental in the or- 
ganism. Among these stable ingredients of the organism, none 
was conceived to be more eternal and reliable than the so- 
called sex instinct. Ali the activities centering around the im- 
pulse that leads to mating and offspring were envisaged as 
purely instinctive reactions. Thus, nothing seemed more 
natural than the assumption of an instinctive sex attraction 
between male and female. The surprising bit of new knowl- 
edge referred to above consists in the demonstration (by 
scientific experiment) of the essentially undifferentiated and 
far from fixed nature of the sex instinct. 

Animals, for example monkeys, show no decided and in- 
evitable preference ior the opposite sex. Succinctly sum- 
marized, said animals enjoy (we'll call it that) the practices 
of masturbation and homosexuality, even as they appear to 
enjoy heterosexual relations. We discover no overwhelming 
evidence in favor of the traditional hypothesis that sex ex- 
pression unquestionably implies the presence of both sexes, 
at least, so it had been argued, among the higher animals. The 
primary fact seems to be sheer undifferentiated sex tension. 
What mode of relief this tension shall take depends, not upon 
eternally fixed patterns of response called instinctive', but 
rather upon the opportunities of the environment at the 



THE FREUDIAN EMPHASIS ON SEX 57 

given moment. In the animal experiments, in the absence of 
the opposite sex, a male monkey had no hesitancy in mating 
with a small and youthful male of the species. Or, for lack 
of either male or female cohabitant, our lust-laden monkey 
will content himself with any object close by as a point of 
contact for the sheer mechanics of coitus. These unfamiliar 
facts reopen the whole problem of the nature of instinct. 

Increasingly we must prepare our reluctant minds for the 
knowledge of the spreading cult of sexual behavior once 
looked upon as definitely pathologic and monstrous, latterly 
surveyed as within the field of human nature's true prefer- 
ences. We are all becoming acquainted with abnormal sex 
practices. Whether we have in mind boarding schools, 
seminaries, college dorms, army life, reformatories, prisons, 
art colonies, monasteries, camps, in fine, any human center 
where one sex predominates, we are no longer shocked to 
learn of the existence of homosexuality, sometimes tentative 
and playful, sometimes deliberate and overt, not to mention 
more innocent sex behavior that would until the day before 
yesterday have been called even by sexologists, abnormal, in 
fact, pathologic. The big question confronting sexologists of 
the psychoanalytic school is this: Is, there any form of sex 
behavior that may be called abnormal in the pathologic sense, 
and if so, from whose point of view? This troubling query 
introduces the expert at once into the more perturbing sub- 
ject of perversions. One thing seems perfectly clear: it is no 
longer permissible for an enlightened person to be horrified 
by perversion. 

Strangely enough, even Freud who has, in the face of the 
m6st humiliating opposition from the respectable folk, 
habituated our reasonable minds to the wide permissible 
variety of sex expression, takes as his point of departure for 
sexual normality the ancient fact of reproduction. In such a 
view, the use of one's sex in ways that sidetrack libidinous 
desire from the true goal of mating drags in its train the pos- 
sibility of perversion. In the most naturalistic view, per- 



58 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

version is sexual behavior that thwarts the aim' of reproduc- 
tion. Thus the true indictment of the* "polymorphous per- 
verse" sexual practices of children is the danger resident in 
them for infantile fixations that distort the evolution of erotic 
desire toward uninhibited heterosexuality. On the basis of 
such a logic, auto-erotism, homosexual fixations, narcissistic 
sexuality, are all undesirable forms of sex expression because 
of the danger of arrested development at one of these im- 
mature levels. These are literally perversions in the sense that 
such behaviors sidetrack libidinous desire from "object love'' 
which in a normal maturity means love of the opposite sex. 

There are tendencies of a sociological and psycho-sexual 
nature in our age that make abundantly clear the subordina- 
tion of the goal of reproduction to that of self-indulgence. 
Expressed more graphically, the contemporary cultural situa- 
tion is subordinating procreation to recreation. If this be true, 
no tendency in modernity appears to be more emphatically 
in the ascendant, it is incumbent upon us to realize that 
what used to be called perversion has become the new nor- 
mality. Sex is no longer being primarily used for purposes of 
reproduction. This singular fact must be our starting point 
for whatever enlightened thinking we are preparing to do in 
the attempt to enrich the life of the sexes in whatever ways 
seem conducive to such enrichment. The old criteria of nor- 
mality are no longer tenable. The new criteria are in the 
process of creation. Toward the creation of the new norms the 
variety of human nature and the potentialities of sex ex- 
pression will make their significant contribution. What we 
of the puritanic tradition must courageously confront is the 
nature and extent of the sexual revolution that unfolds itself 
fascinatingly before our affrighted eyes. 

Once we clearly envisage the sheer inevitability of the 
sexual revolution, the social and psycho-sexual forces that 
were predetermining the shift of the center of gravity from 
procreation to recreation, we shall be in a calmer mood to 
understand some of the eccentric by-products of so vast a 



THE FREUDIAN EMPHASIS ON SEX 59 

change in sex fulfillment. Sex as duty (a theologic ethic) has 
gone the way of all wearisome and life-denying superstitions. 
Sex as delight (an aesthetic and psychoanalytic ethic) has 
captured the minds of men and women eager for felicity. With 
the bankruptcy of the older ethic as latterly manifested in 
the growing phenomena of experimental marriage, freedom 
in love, adultery, divorce, the candid acceptance of auto- 
erotism, the distinguished pleas for the rights of homo- 
sexuals, goes quite inevitably the emergence of a sexual ethics 
that must seem by antithesis the very quintessence of ab- 
normality: what some would call pathology and perversion. 

No theme is more deserving of our sincere and unf rightened 
attention than the new freedom in sex expression based upon 
the triumph of recreation over procreation as the goal of 
sex love. 

The rediscovery of passion is the shining novelty of an 
age which has simultaneously discovered that woman pos- 
sesses sexual personality. Henceforth, it is woman who will 
be setting the patterns of permissible sex behavior. Her 
emancipation from the bondage of fecundity has left her with 
a fund of erotic energy that must seek outlets in non- 
reproductive fashions. The speed and ease with which this 
newly emancipated female has taken to varietism in sex 
hints at the supersession of ancient norms by ultra-modern 
ones. If the accumulating evidence in the case should plainly 
show that what men and women of another time had agreed, 
out of the depths of their sweet sexual reticence, to call 
modesty, has disappeared from the bosoms of respectable 
females (an unreality that had never been more than a 
metaphysical pretense honored in a world of make-believe), 
we can the more serenely approach the new woman as the 
child of candor and life, the sworn enemy of sham and shame. 
The vital essence of the quite new morality is its reputable 
shamelessness. This contribution to the higher ethics is un- 
challengeably woman's. 

Freud's brilliant conceptions of the mechanisms under- 



60 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

lying psychoneurotic behavior were in considerable part 
provoked by his study of women suffering from various kinds 
of compulsions, anxieties, obsessions, which he traced to 
infantile traumatic occurrences and to fixations and distor- 
tions of the sexual impulse. It is not necessary to enter here 
into a critical discussion of the Freudian theory of the 
psychoneuroses. For our purposes it is enough to point out 
that the undeniable role of sexual frustration in the develop- 
ment of various of the psychoneurotic states has been il- 
luminated most impressively by the Freudian technique. 
The vast amount of sexual suffering engendered in marriage 
by the intrusion of memories and attachments and traumatic 
experiences traceable to childhood has been clarified by psy 
choanalysis. The repressive power of conventional morality, 
the inhibiting force of parental fixation, the disturbing in- 
fluence of unconscious homosexual trends, the doubts and 
anxieties engendered by fear and shame, the compulsions and 
obsessions that act as a screen for immoral desires, the role 
of oral and anal eroticism, the strange tenacity of certain 
sexual episodes having their dark roots in childhood, all 
these matters, of the first importance to a realistic insight 
into the variety of sex behavior, are the patient contribution 
of the Freudian analysts. Such a contribution could never 
have been made except by a group of experts in whom candor 
and clarity had definitely triumphed over pretense and 
evasion. 

The vivid concepts of sadism and masochism enrich our 
comprehension of human nature in a striking way. One need 
not point to pathologic cases of sadistic and masochistic be- 
havior sprung from sexual perversion to realize that these 
components are widely distributed among so-called .normal 
people whose erotic life is considerably influenced by one or 
the other of them. It is legitimate to supplement this notion 
with the role played by sheer ego-dominance which is quite 
as often responsible for these sexually perverse attitudes. 
The sadistic lover is* evidently expressing his will-to-supe- 



THE FREUDIAN EMPHASIS ON SEX 6 1 

riority quite as emphatically as his sheer exuberance of un- 
controllable sex desire. Perhaps the imposing of pain is the 
most fundamental device at the disposal of humans for put- 
ting their personalities across at all costs. Even in the less 
plausible instance of masochism, of the desire to suffer pain, 
we may be witnessing a cowardly and abnormal form of the 
will-to-power embodying itself in a kind of wretched martyr- 
dom. At any rate, in the play of such powerful tendencies as 
sadism and masochism, we, behold remarkable instances of 
the interrelation and overlapping of the fundamental factors 
of ego and sex, sometimes with the ego riding the situation, 
sometimes with sex in charge of affairs. There is a kind of 
egotism which is primarily sexual. There is a kind of sexuality 
which is fundamentally egotistic. This truth, which is some- 
what wider and therefore more adequate than the Freudian 
or the Adlerian emphasis, deserves a more analytic study. 

What is civilization? From a psychoanalytic point of view, 
civilization is a complicated device of repression and con- 
cealment, having as its major purpose the subordination of 
passion to social conformity, by means of the definite pro- 
hibition of free and easy sex expression in youth, and cor- 
relatively, by the sublimation of instinctive desire in socially 
useful modes. Civilization spells repression. To be perfectly 
accurate, let us say that conventional civilization spells re- 
pression. Perhaps men and women can build a new uncon- 
ventional civilization which will not rest upon the props of 
repression and concealment. We shall see. 

If we survey traditional civilization, we are impressed by 
one fact as always conspicuously present; the vast array of 
machinery of intimidation (physical, emotional, intellectual, 
spiritual ) used by the authoritative elders to prevent the free 
and easy expression of sex desire. The times waited for a 
Freud to come along and make clear to a blind mankind how 
tragic the costs of this civilized machinery of intimidation. 
This expose of the staggering human cost of sexual frustra- 
tion I look upon as the ultimately important contribution of 



62 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

Freud. Why were the authoritative elders so concerned with 
preventing nature from being natural? 

One explanation leans on ego-dominance, the other expla- 
nation belongs to the life of sex. Can you imagine a more 
reliable source of self-importance than playing at the role 
of moral censor? The melodramatic thrill of moral superiority 
is the most exquisite kind of sadistic delight. To sit in judg- 
ment: that pose suits human nature beautifully. To find 
scapegoats for one's moralistic viciousness is the most in- 
teresting of pastimes. Those who have suffered deprivation 
and frustration cannot be counted on to be generous. Their 
only source of compensatory satisfaction lies in a malicious 
kill-joy attitude that seeks to prevent others from enjoy- 
ment. In the field of sex, the kill-joy attitude is too familiar 
to leave us in any doubt of its evil potency. The elders of 
the tribe are in a holy-holy conspiracy to deny to the young 
the prerogatives of sex love because they themselves are 
debarred (by natural limitation or social taboo) from a 
similar happy indulgence. What they miss in sex fulfillment 
they seek to wrest from ego-dominance. Then, too, their 
dwarfish and tainted attitudes toward the spontaneity and 
adventurousness of passion and love have for so long marred 
their own capacity for highly evaluating romance and mating 
that they are really quite incapable of understanding why 
illuminated young bodies should yearn toward one another 
so madly. The virtue of the old is the virtue of impotence. 
The wisdom of the old is the wisdom of frustration. Depriva- 
tion from the experimental felicities of sex prompts the ego 
to make a last brave stand for compensatory status by 
brandishing the will-to-power over the heads of lawless 
youth who are too preoccupied in the quest of happiness to 
be impressed with the vicious demands of frustrated egotists 
for a place in the sun. 

If conventional civilization has insisted on putting a strait- 
jacket on the live passionate impulses of youth, the reason 
by no means consistently rational. The fear of promis- 



THE FREUDIAN EMPHASIS ON SEX 63 

cuous parenthood played its inhibiting part, of course. But, 
psychologically, the essence of the true reason (obscured by 
rationalization) was simply the kill-joy jealousy of the 
young nestling poisonously in the hearts of the old. We cannot 
think graciously of a feast from which we are debarred. 

Can civilization, under new psychoanalytic auspices, allow 
to sex the wide margins of pleasurable freedom it yearns for, 
without undermining those values deemed previous by men 
and women as human beings, sensitive, egotistic, willful, self- 
conscious? A subtle warfare is on between the ego and sex 
components in human nature. Can the ego and sex forces do 
as they please, under a regime of freedom of personal im- 
pulse, without eventually introducing more torture into the 
relation of the sexes than we are as yet more than dimly 
aware of, in our inevitably hectic pursuit of self-expression? 

The most interesting and important movement in America 
for applying rational and humanistic techniques to the study 
of the complicated problems of sexual maladjustment is the 
mental hygiene movement. Recently, Dr. Frankwood E. 
Williams, its director, has emphasized as of paramount im- 
portance in youthtime two problems, viz., emancipation from 
the home and the attainment of heterosexuality. These propo- 
sitions imply two antecedent situations: the obsessive and 
distorting influence of overemotional familial authority, and 
the existence of temptations and opportunities for sexual 
behavior that stand in the way of normal sex expression. The 
dependence of the child upon the parent; the dependence of 
the parent upon the child; the veiled incestuous bond that 
may exist between parent and child where the emotional 
relation is exceedingly intense; the evil after-effects upon a 
child's development of having come under the sway of an 
authoritative father or an indulgent mother; the untoward 
consequences for the love life of the young of having dwelt 
for the most impressionable years with loveless or unhappy 
parents; the obviously bad influence of parents who, having 
failed frankly to confront and to solve their own erotic 



64 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

problems, nevertheless proceed, in their haughty blindness, 
to impose negations and taboos and repressions upon their 
growing offspring whose animalism and natural candor so 
often outrage and shame them; these momentous problems 
have been brought to public consciousness by the hopeful 
new science of mental hygiene which has been inspired by 
the brilliant discoveries of Freud, Jung, Adler and a host of 
psychoanalytic-minded psychologists. 

Not so long ago even the most enlightened persons as- 
sumed the naturalness and therefore the inevitability of 
heterosexual attachment. The wise admonition of Dr. Wil- 
liams gives us pause. Are there any forces in contemporary 
civilization that tend to thwart normal sexing? I believe so. 
The rhythm of the jazz age has infected our sex life: no 
doubt of that. We seek stimulation incessantly. No one can 
reasonably deny that the old-fashioned sobriety of marriage 
with its spiritless ritual and routine of all work and no play 
has lost its coercion over the consciences of young men and 
young women. For the younger generation, fecundity is out 
of the question. The new gospel is one of frank fun and 
happy-go-lucky pleasure seeking. This shift in psychological 
atmospheres has brought with it a jazzing of sexual eagerness, 
a call for more zest, an open-hearted invitation to sensual 
playful experience. When you consider how very easily nor- 
mal sex behavior slides into a kind of monotonous ceremonial 
devoid of spontaneity or passional enthusiasm, you can catch 
the meaning of that flirting with the unusual, the forbidden, 
the immoral, which marks the new sexual regimen. We cannot 
evade the troubling fact that marriage and reproduction and 
normality and duty, whatever their status in heaven, are los- 
ing their ancient sanction on earth. The modern mad quest 
for stimulation is driving men and women into the arms of 
abnormality. Pathology promises novel sensations. 

There are other vital points to be reckoned with. The 
physiological enlightenment that removes the mystery and 
the illusion surrounding sex; the general disrobing of the 



THE FREUDIAN EMPHASIS ON SEX 65 

female in public that gradually habituates the male to a 
simple, athletic, and feebly erotic conception of the magic of 
sex (once dwelt upon by the race of man as the wonder 
of wonders); the all-pervading cult of contraception; the 
substitution of a mechanical deliberateness for a natural 
reckless spontaneity in the performance of the sex act; the 
disheartening simplicity, almost automaticity, of sexing in 
marriage ; finally, the transformation of the very basis of life 
from one of sober duty and conscience pangs (for infringe- 
ment) to that of drunken disregard and light-hearted self- 
indulgence; these mutations in the philosophy and deport- 
ment of the sexes have contributed hugely to that search for 
recreation and playful erotic exoerience with which our 
neurotic age is acquainted. ' 

What I want to stress is the inevitability of these changes. 
The older normality implied procreation as the goal of the 
sex life. The newer normality assumes recreation as the goal 
of the sex life. The difference is nothing if not revolutionary. 
The most radical by-product of the change in norms is the 
emergence of abnormal sexual experience with appropriate 
apologetic, rationalization, and reputable justification. Be- 
cause these things are true, we must view heterosexual at- 
tachment as no longer the secure and sacred reality we were 
taught to believe it to be, in the nature of things, eternally. 
Homosexual attachment achieves increasingly a status of 
respectability. If normal sexual intercourse between men and 
.women, shut off from the larger aim of reproduction, should 
find itself subject to the self-centered limitation of monotony 
and routine and passionlessness, as it is in danger of doing, 
what alternatives remain to the sexes for erotic zest and 
unique stimulation except those resident in playful experi- 
mental behaviors that approach by perilous degrees to abnor- 
mality and perversions? Doubt it not: pathology is woven 
into the very texture of contemporary civilization. 

Matings should begin at puberty. Marriage, from a mor- 
alistic angle, should provide the responsible and sacred sane- 



66 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

tion for mating. Apparently, the simplest solution for sex 
desire would be marriage in earliest youth when puberty 
precipitates genital eagerness. What do we find? Sex desire 
begins as of old in puberty (much earlier, in fact, in many 
cases). Marriage, thanks to the unbearable demands of the 
economic and the cultural situation, what is blithely termed 
"the standard of living," has been deferred for men and for 
women until late maturity; between ages twenty-five and 
thirty-five for females, and between ages thirty and forty 
for males. The great gap between the arrival of puberty and 
the time of marriage constitutes the overwhelmingly big 
unsolved problem of the sexes. What, one may inquire, are 
the sexes doing with their stirred erotic energies during this 
enormous interval? Whatever they may be doing in intimate 
detail, we know very well that in general they are pursuing 
or, if you will, being pursued by casual sex experience. 
The old stability has given place to the new instability as 
the normal pattern of the love life. Casualness best expresses 
the nature of this transvaluation of values. 

Marriage used to mean living together until death do us 
part. Marriage now means living apart until death do bring 
us together. Marriage no longer binds. Marriage no longer 
unites. Marriage as a sacred psycho-sexual union conceived 
in heaven and perpetrated on earth is no longer meaningful to 
us. The habit of marriage remains. The psychology of mar- 
riage has petered out. The custom of marriage is still with 
us. The familiar wistful sanctions of marriage are now a 
chapter in antiquarian lore. The new casual way of sexing 
has modified all our traditional thinking on the subject of 
holy matrimony. 

We might put it this way and say that we have moved 
from an overvaluation to an undervaluation of the signifi- 
cance of the sex act. Even today there is a considerable body 
of religious and inspired opinion (which has its fountain 
head in the cult of the holy virgin) in favor of the chastity 
of marriage, i.e., the practice of abstinence except for those 



THE FREUDIAN EMPHASIS ON SEX 67 

brief luminous moments when conception is being sweetly 
perpetrated. Sex at the service of reproduction, and for the 
rest of the time, religiously out of service. This point of 
view is what I allude to as overvaluation. Now we have 
moved, pendulum-like, to the other extreme. Reproduction 
has become a mere episode in the relations of the sexes. Pro- 
creation is not taken too seriously. But recreation in the sex 
life has been elevated to the status of a religion. This is what 
I referred to as undervaluation. The very casualness of 
modern sex life (we are only witnessing the first fevered 
beginnings of the new morality) makes for a kind of repudia- 
tion of the entire ethics and philosophy of procreation. 

Family life as such is on the wane. Instability of marital 
ties is the outstanding fact. Infidelity is no longer deemed 
a violation of a sacred vow. A kind of loosening of the old 
erotic bonds is occurring among all strata of the population, 
among young and old, good and bad, male and female. This 
loosening of the old erotic bonds is what is technically called 
the new morality. The new morality is really new in the 
original sense that it assigns a status of reasonable reputability 
to behavior branded throughout the moralistic Christian cen- 
turies as immoral, disreputable: for example, auto-erotism, 
adultery, easy divorce, promiscuity, homosexual affection, 
casualness in the love life. 

Casualness in the sex relation condenses it into such a 
simple, straightforward, unmysterious, candid, mechanistic 
and transitory experience that the vogue of sexual stimula- 
tion is inevitable. 

What we witness in the history of thought, as our instru- 
ments of analysis and precision become more subtle, is the 
differentiation of unity into variety, the dismemberment of 
a reality into a number of realities. This pluralistic tendency 
in analytic thought has recently affected our most intimate 
conceptions of life, revealing a richness of possibility which 
had been hidden from sight when we gazed too steadfastly 
at unity, wholeness, concepts in their unanalyzed totality. 



68 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

For example, in thinking of love we dwelt upon its universal 
quality, unaware of the varieties and levels, so to speak, that 
may dwell together within that original context. Only of late, 
as an echo of the Freudian candor in matters sexual, have 
psychologists found the courage to separate out from among 
the several ingredients the very significant element of lust. 
Thus in dynamic textbooks on psychology you will find lust 
as the term most appropriate for the quintessential attribute 
of love. In due time, a more perfect analysis will have been 
completed revealing other vital components in that once 
mystic conception of sex attraction romantically alluded to 
as love. 

If we apply this analytic dismemberment to the love of 
the sexes, we shall discover an interesting difference between 
marital love and sexual love. Under the older morality, the 
only honorable love was what I have called marital love. 
The sexual revolution, transpiring in our very midst, has 
ruthlessly analyzed out the truth about marital love and 
discovered that its characteristic attribute is compassion. 
On the other hand, the essence of sexual love resides in its 
passion. Under the new morality, sanctions are fast being 
built up for sexual love that are competing very favorably 
with the traditional sanctions woven about marital love. A 
marvelous keen rivalry now exists between these two kinds 
of love. Such a telltale title as Married Love, which Marie 
Stopes wisely gives to her enlightening book, gives the secret 
away. The secret that marital love, whatever its title to honor, 
loyalty, self-sacrifice, chivalry, compassion, must not be 
confounded with that less reputable and more volcanic kind 
of sex attraction known as sexual love. Married love is a 
fine phrase for the splendidly new experiment in equating the 
magic turbulent passion of sex love with the responsible and 
dignified status of marriage. Can marriage give passion the 
lease of life it hungers for? 

Many psychoanalytical studies demonstrate with a shock- 
ing clarity how marital disharmony may be linked with the 



THE FREUDIAN EMPHASIS ON SEX 69 

absence or petering out of sexual love. In a sense never 
before dreamed of by the evasive and shame-ridden minds 
of men (and women!), marriage is coming to be construed 
as an empty ceremonial, sheer futile make-believe, unless 
buoyed up by the inspiration and stimulation of great pas- 
sion. Under the older morality, the very mention of making 
love to one's wife as one might to a secret mistress seemed an 
unclean and shameful notion. Under the newer morality, the 
one disreputable behavior will be the denial to one's wife 
of audacious passion, once looked down upon as fit only for 
the "painted disasters of the street." Well, the astonishing 
fact is that our wives and sisters and daughters and sweet- 
hearts (a most respectable crew) have all taken to emulating 
and rivaling the said painted disasters of the street. And 
why this unseemly haste to model themselves after the pat- 
tern of the quondam disreputable daughters of joy? Because 
they have come to the realization of the quickening uses to 
which passion can be put. Thus, we witness incredible changes 
in personal deportment which defy explanation unless we are 
equipped with enough sympathy and wisdom to appreciate 
how desperately men and women are trying to save marriage 
by galvanizing it into a new lease of life by sexualizing it. 
Latter-day disreputability is merely a crude expression of a 
wonderful impulse on the part of our respectable females: to 
win for themselves the spontaneous passionate loyalty of 
men by weaning them from the moralistic absurdity that 
wives are too good for passion. As Freud sagely remarks: 
"We can prove to society mathematically that its code of 
ethics has exacted more sacrifices than it is worth, and that 
its procedure rests neither on veracity nor wisdom." 

Owing to the penetrating discoveries of the psychoanalysts, 
we have been compelled to undergo a crisis in our lives which 
really marks the evolution of a mind from an infantile to a 
mature stage. The most powerful force in our human nature 
that makes for maturity is sex expression. We are gradually 
unlearning the abysmal superstitious dogmas of puritanic 



7O SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

prudery, and with a surprising rapidity learning to live by 
the clarifying and courageous insights of a psychoanalytic 
philosophy of love. In the life of the sexes the beginning of 
wisdom is to cast out shame. There is in candor, scientifically 
illuminated, a dignity that is immeasurably superior in 
spiritual power to the moralistic shame that has served so 
poorly the deep human needs of men and women, ignorant 
of how to love one another bravely, beautifully. 

The Freudian emphasis on sex, for all its exaggeration and 
grotesquerie, is one of the most wholesome contributions ever 
made to the liberation of the mind from the bondage of 
shame and fear. 

"I cannot understand why Wisdom, which is, so to speak, 
the sediment of everyday experiences, should be denied ad- 
mission among the acquisitions of knowledge.' 7 One must 
agree with the great Freud that wisdom is the most perfect 
fruit of knowledge. 



SEX 1 
By Alfred Adler 

WE have learned that two great tendencies dominate all 
psychic phenomena. These two tendencies, the social feel- 
ing, and the individual striving for power and domination, 
influence every human activity and color the attitude of every 
individual in his striving for security, in his fulfillment of 
the three great challenges of life: love, work, and society. 
We shall have to accustom ourselves, in judging psychic 
phenomena, to investigate the quantitative and the qualita- 
tive relationships of these two factors if we want to under- 
stand the human soul. The relationship of these factors to one 
another conditions the degree to which anyone is capable of 
comprehending the logic of communal life, and therefore, the 
degree to which he is capable of subordinating himself to 
the division of labor which grows out of the necessity of that 
communal life. 

Division of labor is a factor in the maintenance of human 
society which must not be overlooked. Everyone at some time, 
or at some place, must contribute his quota. That man who 
does not deliver his quota, who denies the value of com- 
munal life, becomes an anti-social being, and resigns his 
fellowship in humanity. In simple cases of this sort we speak 
of egotism, of mischievousness, of self-centeredness, of nui- 
sance. In the more complicated cases, we see the eccentrics, 
the hoboes, and the criminals. Public condemnation of these 
traits and characteristics grows out of an appreciation of their 
origins, an intuition of their incompatibility with the demands 
of social life. Any man's value, therefore, is determined by 

1 From Understanding Human Nature. New York: Greenberg, 
1927. 



72 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

his attitude toward his fellow men, and by the degree in 
which he partakes of the division of labor which communal 
life demands. His affirmation of this communal life makes 
him important to other human beings, makes him a link in 
the great chain which binds society, the chain which we 
cannot in any way disturb without also disturbing human 
society. A man's capabilities determine his place in the total 
production of human society. Much confusion has clouded 
this simple truth, because the striving for power and the 
lust for dominance have introduced false values into the 
normal division of labor. This striving for dominance has 
disturbed and thwarted the total production, and has given 
us a false basis for the judgment of human values. 

Individuals have disturbed this division of labor by refus- 
ing to adapt themselves to the place that they must fill. 
Further, difficulties have arisen out of the false ambition and 
power wishes of individuals who have blocked communal life 
and the communal work for their own egoistic interests. 
Similarly, entanglements have been caused by class dif- 
ferences in our society. Personal power or economic interest 
have influenced the division of the field of labor by reserving 
all the better positions for individuals of certain classes, that 
is, those affording the greater power while other individuals, 
of other classes, have been excluded from them. The recogni- 
tion of these numerous factors in the structure of society 
enables us to understand why the division of labor has never 
proceeded smoothly. Forces continually disturbing this divi- 
sion of labor have created privilege for one, and slavery 
for another. 

The bisexuality of the human race conditions another 
division of labor. Woman, by virtue of her physical constitu- 
tion, is excluded from some certain activities, while on the 
other hand, there are certain labors which are not given to 
man, because man could better be employed at other tasks. 
This division of labor should have been instituted according 
to an entirely unprejudiced standard, and all the movements 



SEX 73 

for the emancipation of women in so far as they have not 
overstepped logical points in the heat of conflict, have taken 
up the logic of this point of view. A division of labor is far 
from robbing woman of her femininity, or disturbing the 
natural relationships between man and woman. Each acquires 
those opportunities of labor which are best fitted for him, 
In the course of human development this division of labor 
has so configured itself that woman has taken over a certain 
part of the world's work (which might otherwise occupy a 
man too), in return for which man is in the position to use 
his powers to greater effect. We cannot call this division of 
labor senseless so long as the powers for work are not mis- 
used, and so long as physical and mental powers are not 
deflected to a bad end. 

As a consequence of the development of culture in the 
direction of personal power, especially through the efforts 
of certain individuals and certain classes of society, who wish 
to secure privileges for themselves, this division of labor has 
fallen into characteristic channels which have colored our 
entire civilization. The importance of the male in the culture 
of today is greatly emphasized as a result. The division of 
labor is such that the privileged group, men, are guaranteed 
certain advantages, and this as a result of their domination 
over women in the division of labor. Thus the dominant male 
assumes advantages and directs the activity of women to the 
end that the more agreeable forms of life shall appertain 
always to the males, whereas those activities are allowed 
women which men can advantageously avoid. 

As things stand now there is a constant striving on the 
part of men to dominate women, and an appropriate dissatis- 
faction with masculine domination on the part of women. 
Since the two sexes are so narrowly connected it is easily 
conceivable that this constant tension leads to psychic dis- 
sonances and to far-reaching physical disturbances which 
must of necessity be extraordinarily painful to both sexes. 

All our institutions, our traditional attitudes, our laws, our 



74 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

morals, our customs, give evidence of the fact that they are 
determined and maintained by privileged males for the glory 
of male domination. These institutions reach out into the 
very nurseries and have a great influence upon the child's 
soul. A child's understanding of these relationships need not 
be very great, but we must admit that his emotional life is 
immensely affected by them. These attitudes may well be 
investigated when for instance we see a young boy responding 
to the request to put on girls' clothes, with a terrific temper 
tantrum. Once let a boy's craving for power reach a certain 
degree, and you will surely find him showing a preference for 
the privileges of being a man which, he recognizes, guarantee 
his superiority everywhere. We have already mentioned the 
fact that the education in our families nowadays is only too 
well designed to overvalue the striving for power. The 
consequent tendency to maintain and exaggerate the mas- 
culine privilege follows naturally, for it is usually the father 
who stands as the family symbol of power His mysterious 
comings and goings arouse the interest of the child much 
more than the constant presence of a mother The child 
quickly recognizes the prominent role his father plays, and 
notes how he sets the pace, makes all arrangements, and ap- 
pears everywhere as the leader. He sees how all obey his 
commands and how his mother asks him for his advice. From 
every angle, his father seems to be the one who is strong 
and powerful. There are children for whom the father is so 
much a standard that they believe that everything he says 
must be holy; they attest to the Tightness of their views sim- 
ply by saying that their father ortce said so Even in those 
cases in which the fatherly influence does not seem to be so 
well marked, children will get the idea of the domination 
of the father because the whole load of the family seems to 
rest upon him, whereas, as a matter of fact, it is only the 
division of labor which enables the father in the family to 
use his powers to better advantage. 



SEX 75 

So far as the history of the origin of masculine dominance 
is concerned, we must call attention to the fact that this is 
a phenomenon which does not occur as a natural thing. 
This is indicated by the numerous laws which are necessary 
legally to guarantee this domination to men. It is also an 
indication that previous to the legal enforcement of mas- 
culine domination there must have been other epochs in 
which the masculine privilege was not nearly so certain. 
History proves that such epochs actually existed in the 
days of the matriarchate, the 'age in which it was the 
mother, the woman, who played the important role in life, 
particularly so far as the child was concerned. At that time 
each man in the clan was in duty bound to respect the 
honored position of the mother. Certain customs and usages 
are still colored by this ancient institution, as for instance, 
the introduction of all strange men to a child with the title 
of "uncle" or "cousin." A terrific battle must have pre- 
ceded the transition from matriarchate to masculine domina- 
tion. Men who like to believe that their privileges and pre- 
rogatives are determined by nature will be surprised to 
learn that men did not possess these prerogatives from the 
beginning, but had to fight for them. 2 The triumph of man 
was simultaneous with the subjugation of women, and it is 
especially the evidence in the development ot the law which 
bears witness to this long process of subjugation. 

Masculine dominance is not a natural thing. There is evi- 
dence to prove that it occurred chiefly as a result of con- 
stant battles between primitive peoples, during the course 
of which man assumed the more prominent role as warrior, 
and finally used his newly won superiority in order to re- 
tain the leadership for himself and for his own ends. Hand 
in hand with this development was a development of property 
rights and inheritance rights which became a basis of mascu- 

2 A very good description of this development can be found in 
August Bebel's Woman and Socialism and in Mathias and Mathilde 
Vaerting's The Dominant Sex. / 



76 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

line domination, in so far as man usually was the acquirer 
and owner of property. 

A growing child need not however read books on this 
theme. Despite the fact that he knows nothing of these 
archaeological data he senses the fact that the male is the 
privileged member of the family. This occurs even when 
fathers and mothers with considerable insight are disposed to 
overlook those privileges which we have inherited from an- 
cient days, in favor of a greater equality. It is very difficult 
to make it clear to a child that a mother who is engaged in 
household duties is as valuable as a father. 

Think what it means to a young boy who sees the prevail- 
ing privilege of manhood before his eyes from his earliest 
days. From the day of his birth he is received with greater 
acclamation than a girl child. It is a well known and all too 
frequent occurrence that parents prefer to have boys as 
children. A boy senses at every step that, as a chip of the old 
block, he has certain privileges and a greater social value. 
Casual words directed toward him or taken up by him oc- 
casionally are constantly calling to his attention the fact of 
the greater importance of the masculine role. 

The domination of the male also appears to him in the in- 
stitution of female servants about the house who are used 
for menial tasks, and finally he is reenforced in his senti- 
ments by the fact that the women in his environment are 
not at all convinced of their equality with men. That most 
important question which all women should ask their pro- 
spective husbands before marriage: "What is your attitude 
toward masculine domination, particularly in family life?" 
is usually never answered. In one case we find an expression 
of the striving for equality and in another case any of the 
various degrees of resignation. In contrast we see the father 
Convinced from boyhood that as a man he has a more im- 
portant role to play. He interprets this conviction as an im- 
plicit duty, and concerns himself solely with responding to 



SEX 77 

the challenges of life and society in favor of masculine 
privilege. 

Every situation which arises out of this relationship is 
experienced by the child. What he gets out of it is a num- 
ber of pictures concerning the nature of woman, in which 
for the most part the woman plays a sorry figure. In this 
way the development of the boy has a distinct masculine 
color. What he believes to be the worth-while goals in his 
striving for power are exclusively masculine qualities and 
masculine attitudes. A typical masculine virtue grows out 
of these power relationships, which patently indicates its 
origins to us. Certain character traits count as masculine, 
others as feminine, albeit there is no basis to justify these 
valuations. If we compare the psychic state of boys and 
girls and seemingly find evidence in support of this classi- 
fication, we do not deal with natural phenomena, but are 
describing the expressions of individuals who have been di- 
rected into a very specific channel, whose style of life and 
behavior pattern have been narrowed down by specific 
conceptions of power. These conceptions of power have in- 
dicated to them with compelling force the place where they 
must seek to develop. There is no justification for the dif- 
ferentiation of "manly" and "womanly" character traits. 
We shall see how both these traits are capable of being 
used to fulfill the striving for power. In other words, that 
one can express power with the so-called "feminine" traits, 
such as obedience and submission. The advantages which 
an obedient child enjoys can sometimes bring it much more 
into the lime-light than a disobedient child, though the striv- 
ing for power is present in both cases. Our insight into psy- 
chic life is often made more difficult by the fact that striv- 
ing for power expresses itself in the most complex fashion. 

As a boy grows older his masculinity becomes a signif- 
icant duty, his ambition, his desire for power and superiority 
is indisputably connected and identified with the duty to be 
masculine. For many children who desire power it is not 



78 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

sufficient to be simply aware of their masculinity ; they must 
show a proof that they are men, and therefore they must 
have privileges. They accomplish this, on the one hand, by 
efforts to excel, thereby measuring their masculine traits; 
on the other hand they may succeed by tyrannizing their 
feminine environment in every possible way. According to 
the degree of resistance which they meet, these boys utilize 
either stubbornness and wild insurgency, or craft and cun- 
ning, to gain their ends. 

Since every human being is measured according to the 
standard of the privileged male, it is no wonder that one 
always holds this standard before a boy. Finally he meas- 
ures himself according to it, observing and asking whether 
his activities are sufficiently "masculine," whether he is 
"fully a man." What we consider "masculine" nowadays is 
common knowledge. Above all it is something purely egoistic, 
something which satisfies self-love, gives a feeling of superi- 
ority and domination over others, all with the aid of seem- 
ingly "active" characteristics such as courage, strength, duty, 
the winning of all manner of victories, especially those over 
women, the acquisition of positions, honors, titles, and the 
desire to harden himself against so-called "feminine" tend- 
encies, and the like. There is a constant battle for personal 
superiority because it counts as a "masculine" virtue to be 
dominant. 

In this manner every boy assumes characteristics which 
he sees in adult men, especially his father. We can trace 
the ramifications of this artificially nourished delusion of 
grandeur in the most diverse manifestations of our society. 
At an early age a boy is urged to secure for himself a re- 
serve of power and privileges. This is what is called "man- 
liness." In bad cases it degenerates into the well-known ex- 
pressions of rudeness and brutality. 

The advantages of being a man are, under such conditions, 
very alluring. We must not be astonished therefore when we 
see many girls who maintain a masculine ideal either as an 



SEX 79 

unfulfillable desire, or as a standard for the judgment of 
their behavior; this ideal may evince itself as a pattern for 
action and appearance. It would seem that in our culture 
every woman wanted to be a man! In this class we find those 
girls particularly who have an uncontrollable desire to dis- 
tinguish themselves in games and activities which are more 
appropriate to boys by virtue of their different physique. 
They climb up every tree, play rather with boys than with 
girls, and avoid every "womanly" activity as a shameful 
thing. Their satisfaction lies only in masculine activities. 
The preference for manliness makes all these phenomena 
understandable when we understand how the striving for 
superiority is more concerned with the symbols of things 
than with the activities of life. 

Man has been wont to justify his domination not only 
by maintaining that his position is natural, but also that his 
dominance results from -the inferiority of woman. This con- 
ception of the inferiority of woman is so widespread that it 
appears as the common property of all races. Linked with 
this prejudice is a certain unrest on the part of men which 
may well have originated in the time of the war against 
the matriarchate, when woman was a source of actual anxiety. 
We come upon indications of this constantly in literature 
and history. A Latin author writes "Mulier est hominis con- 
fusio," "Woman is the confusion of man." In the theological 
consilia the question was often argued whether a woman had 
a soul, and learned theses were written concerning the ques- 
tion whether woman was actually a human being. The cen- 
tury-long period of witdbbpersecution and witch-burning is 
a sorry witness of the errors, the tremendous uncertainty 
and confusion of that happily forgotten age concerning this 
question. 

Woman was often held up as the source of all evil, as in 
the Biblical conception of the original sin, or as in the Iliad 
of Homer. The story of Helen demonstrated how one woman 
was capable of throwing whole peoples into misfortune* 



80 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

Legends and fairy tales of all times contain indices of the 
moral inferiority of woman, of her wickedness, of her falsity, 
of her treachery and of her fickleness. "Womanly folly" has 
even been used as an argument in legal cases. Coincident with 
these prejudices is the degradation of woman's capability, 
industry, and ability. Figures of speech, anecdotes, mottoes, 
and jokes, in all literatures and among all peoples, are full 
of degrading critiques of woman. Woman is reproached with 
her spitefulness, her pettiness, her stupidity, and the like. 

An extraordinary acuity is sometimes developed in order 
to bear witness to the inferiority of woman. The number of 
men like Strindberg, Moebius, Schopenhauer, and Weininger, 
who have upheld this thesis, has been enlarged by a not in- 
considerable number of women whose resignation has caused 
them to subscribe to a belief in the inferiority of woman. 
They are the champions of woman's role of submission, The 
degradation of woman and womanly labor is further indicated 
by the fact that women are paid less than men, regardless 
of whether their work is of equal value. 

In the comparison of the results of intelligence and talent 
tests it was actually found that for particular subjects, as 
for instance, mathematics, boys showed more talent, whereas 
girls showed more talent for other subjects, such as languages. 
Boys actually do show greater talent than girls for studies 
which are capable of preparing them for their masculine 
occupation but this is only a seemingly greater talent. If we 
investigate the situation of the girls more closely we learn 
that the story of the lesser capability of worrfan is a palpable 
fable. 

A girl is daily subjected to the argument that girls are 
less capable than boys and are suitable only for unessential 
activities. It is not surprising then that a girl is firmly con- 
vinced of the unchangeable and bitter fate of a woman and 
sooner or later because of her lack of training in childhood, 
actually believes in her own incapability. Discouraged in 
this manner, a girl approaches "masculine" occupations if 



SEX 8 1 

the opportunity to approach them ever presents, with a fore- 
gone conclusion that she will not have the necessary interest 
for them. Should she possess such interest, she soon loses it, 
and thus she is denied both an outer and an inner prepara- 
tion. 

Under such circumstances proof of the incapability of 
woman seems valid. There are two causes for this. In the 
first place the error is accentuated by the fact that the value 
of a human being is frequently judged from purely business 
standpoints, or on one-sided and purely egoistic grounds. 
With such prejudices we can hardly be expected to under- 
stand how far performance and capability are coincident with 
psychic development. And this leads us to the second main 
factor to which the fallacy of the lesser capability of woman 
may thank its existence. It is a frequently overlooked fact 
that a girl comes into the world with a prejudice sounding 
in her ears which is designed only to rob her of her belief in 
her own value, to shatter her self-confidence and destroy her 
hope of ever doing anything worth while. If this prejudice 
is constantly being strengthened, if a girl sees again and 
again how women are given servile roles to play, it is not hard 
to understand how she loses courage, fails to face her obliga- 
tions, and sinks back from the solution of her life's problems. 
Then indeed she is useless and incapable! Yet if we approach 
a human being, undermine his self-respect so far as his re- 
lationship to society is concerned, cause him to abandon 
all hope of ever accomplishing anything, ruin his courage, 
and then find that he actually never amounts to anything, 
then we dare not maintain that we were right, for we must 
admit that it is we who have caused all his sorrow! 

It is easy enough for a girl to lose her courage and her 
self-confidence in our civilization, yet, as a matter of fact, 
certain intelligence tests proved the interesting fact that in 
a certain group of girls, aged from fourteen to eighteen, 
greater talent and capability were evinced than was shown 
by all other groups, boys included. Further researches show 



82 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

that these were all girls from families in which the mother was 
either the sole bread winner, or at least contributed largely 
to the family support. What this means is that these girls 
were in a situation at home in which the prejudice of the 
lesser capability of woman was either not present or existed 
only to a slight extent. They could see with their own eyes 
how their mother's industry had its rewards, and as a result 
they developed themselves much more freely and much more 
independently, entirely uninfluenced by those inhibitions 
which are inevitably associated with the belief in the lesser 
powers of a woman. 

A further argument against this prejudice is the not incon- 
siderable number of women who have accomplished results 
in the most varied fields, particularly in literature, art, crafts, 
and medicine, of such remarkable value that they are quite 
capable of standing any comparison with the results of men 
in these fields. There are so many men furthermore who not 
only do not show any achievements but are possessed of such 
a high grade of incapability that we could easily find an 
equal number of proofs (of course falsely) that men were 
the inferior sex. 

One of the bitter consequences of the prejudices concern- 
ing the inferiority of women is the sharp division and pigeon^ 
holing of concepts according to a scheme: thus "masculine' 
signifies worth while, powerful, victorious, capable, whereas 
"feminine" becomes identical with obedient, servile, sub- 
ordinate. This type of thinking has become so deeply an- 
chored in human thought processes that in our civilization 
everything laudable has a "masculine" color whereas every- 
thing less valuable or actually derogatory is designated 
"feminine." We all know men who could not be more in- 
sult^d than if we told them that they were feminine, whereas 
if we say to a girl that she is masculine it need signify no 
insult. The accent always falls so that everything which is 
reminiscent of woman appears inferior. 

Character traits which would seem to prove this fallacious 



SEX 83 

contention of the inferiority of woman prove themselves on 
closer observation nothing more than the manifestation of 
an inhibited psychic development. We do not maintain that 
we can make what is called a "talented" individual out of 
every child, but we can always make an "untalented" adult 
out of him. We have never done this fortunately. Others, 
however, we know have succeeded only too well. That such a 
fate overtakes girls more frequently than boys, in our day 
and age, is easily understood. We have often had the op- 
portunity of seeing these "untalented" children suddenly 
become so talented that one might have spoken of a miracle ! 

The obvious advantages of being a man have caused severe 
disturbances in the psychic development of women as a con- 
sequence of which there is an almost universal dissatisfaction 
with the feminine role. The psychic life of woman moves 
in much the same channels, and under much the same rules, 
as that of any human beings who find themselves the pos- 
sessors of a strong feeling of inferiority because of their situa> 
tion in the scheme of things. The prejudice of her alleged 
inferiority as a woman signifies an additional aggravating 
complication. If a considerable number of girls find some sort 
ot compensation, they owe it to their character development, 
to their intelligence, and sometimes to certain acquired privi- 
leges. This shows simply how one mistake may give rise to 
others. Such privileges are the special dispensations, exemp- 
tions from obligations, and the luxuries, which give a sem- 
blance of advantage in that they simulate what purports to 
be a high degree of respect for woman. There may be a cer- 
tain degree of idealism in this, but finally this idealism is 
always an ideal which has been fashioned by men to the ad- 
vantage of men George Sand once described it very tellingly 
when she said: "The virtue of woman is a fine invention of 
man." 

In general we can distinguish two types of women in the 
battle against the feminine role. One type has already been 
indicated: the girl who develops in an active, "masculine," 



84 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

direction. She becomes extraordinarily energetic and am- 
bitious, and is constantly fighting for the prizes of life. She 
attempts to exceed her brothers and male comrades, chooses 
activities which are usually considered the privilege of men 
by preference, is interested in sports and the like. Very often 
she evades all the relationships of love and marriage. If she 
enters into such a relationship she may disturb its. harmony 
by striving to be superior to her husband! She may have 
tremendous disinclination to any of the domestic activities. 
She may voice her disinclination directly, or indirectly by 
disavowing all talent for domestic duties, and constantly give 
evidence attempting to prove that she has never developed a 
talent for domesticity. 

This is the type that seeks to compensate for the evil of 
the masculine attitude with a "masculine" response. The 
defense attitude toward womanhood is the foundation of 
her whole being. She has been designated "the boy-girl," "la 
gargonne," the "mannish" woman, and the like. This desig- 
nation, however, is based upon a false conception. There are 
many people who believe that there is a congenital factor 
present in such girls, a certain "masculine" substance or se- 
cretion which causes their "masculine" attitude. The whole 
history of civilization, however, shows us that the pressure 
exerted upon woman, and the inhibitions to which she must 
submit today, are not to be borne by any human being; they 
always give rise to revolt. If this revolt now exhibits itself 
in the direction which we call "masculine," the reason for it 
is simply that there are only two sex roles possible. One must 
orient oneself according to one of two models, either that of 
an ideal woman, or according to that of an ideal man. Deser- 
tion from the role of woman can therefore appear only as 
"masculine," and vice versa. This does not occur as the re- 
sult of some mysterious secretion, but because in the given 
time and place, there is no other possibility. We must never 
lose sight of the difficulties under which the psychic develop- 
ment of a girl takes place. So long as we cannot guarantee 



SEX 85 

every woman an absolute equality with man we cannot de- 
mand her complete reconciliation with life, with the facts of 
our civilization, and the forms of our social life. 

The woman who goes through life with an attitude of 
resignation, who exhibits an almost unbelievable degree of 
adjustment, obedience, and humbleness, belongs to the second 
type. Seemingly she adjusts herself everywhere, takes root 
wherever placed, but demonstrates such a high degree of 
clumsiness and helplessness that she accomplishes nothing at 
all ! She may produce nervous symptoms, which serve her in 
her weakness, to demonstrate her need for consideration to 
others; and she shows clearly thereby how the training she 
has undergone, how her misuse of life, is regularly accom- 
panied by nervous diseases, and makes her totally unfit for 
social life. She belongs to the best people in the world, but un- 
fortunately she is sick'and cannot meet the challenge of ex- 
istence to any satisfying degree. She cannot win the satis- 
faction of her environment for any time. Her submission, her 
humility, her self-repression, is founded on the same revolt 
as that of her sister of the first type, a revolt which says 
clearly enough: "This is no happy life!" 

The woman who does not defend herself against the 
womanly role but carries in herself the torturing conscious- 
ness that she is condemned to be an inferior being and or- 
dained to play a subordinate role in life, makes up the third 
type. She is fully convinced of the inferiority of women, just 
as she is convinced that man alone is called upon to do the 
worth-while things in life. As a consequence, she approves 
his privileged position. Thus she swells the chorus of voices 
which sound the praises of man as the doer and the achiever, 
and demands a special position for him. She shows her feel- 
ing of weakness as clearly as if she wanted recognition for 
it, and demanded additional support because of it; but this 
attitude is the beginning of a long prepared revolt. By way of 
revenge she will shift her marital responsibilities upon her 



86 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

husband with a light-hearted catchword to the effect that 
"Only a man could do these things!" 

Although woman is considered an inferior being, the 
business of education is largely delegated to her. Let us now 
picture these three types of woman for ourselves with ref- 
erence to this most important and difficult task. At this 
juncture we can differentiate the types even more clearly. 
Women of the first type, the "masculine" attitude, will tyran- 
nize, will occupy themselves with punishment, and thus ex- 
ercise a tremendous pressure upon children, which these 
children will, of course, attempt to avoid. When this type 
of education is effective, its best possible result is a sort of 
military training which is quite valueless. Children usually 
think that mothers of this kind are very bad educators. The 
noise, the great to-do, always has a bad effect, and there 
arises the danger that girls will be instigated to imitate them, 
whereas boys are frightened for the rest of their lives. Among 
men who have stood under the dominance of such mothers 
we shall find a number who avoid women as much as pos- 
sible as though they had been inoculated with bitterness, and 
were incapable of bringing any sense of trust to a woman. 
What results is a definite division and separation between 
the sexes, whose pathology we can readily understand despite 
the fact that some investigators still exist who speak of a 
"faulty apportionment of the masculine and feminine ele- 
ments." 

Individuals of the other types are equally futile as edu- 
cators. They may be so skeptical that the children soon dis- 
cover their lack of self-confidence, and grow beyond them. 
In this case the mother renews her efforts, nags and scolds, 
and threatens to tell the father. The fact that she calls upon 
a masculine educator betrays her again, and shows her disbe- 
lief in the success of her educational activity. She deserts 
from the front in the matter of education just as though it 
were her duty to justify her standpoint that man alone is ca- 
pable, and therefore, indispensable for education! Such 



SEX 87 

women may simply avoid all educational efforts, and shift 
the responsibility therefor upon their husbands and govern- 
esses without compunction, since they feel they are incapable 
of any success. 

Dissatisfaction with the womanly role is even more evi- 
dent among girls who escape from life because of some so- 
called "higher" reasons. Nuns, or others who assume some 
occupation for which celibacy is an essential, are a case in 
point. Their lack of reconciliation with their role as women 
is clearly demonstrated in this gesture. Similarly, many girls 
go into business at an early age because the independence 
connected with employment seems a protection to them 
against the threatened necessity of marriage. Here again the 
driving power is the disinclination to assume the womanly 
role. 

What of those cases in which marriage occurs, in which 
one could believe that the role of woman had been volun- 
tarily assumed? We learn that marriage need not neces- 
sarily be an indication that a girl has reconciled herself 
with her womanly role. The example of a thirty-six-year-old 
woman is typical of this. She comes to the physician com- 
plaining of various nervous ills. She was the oldest child of 
a marriage between an aging man and a very domineering 
woman. The fact that her mother, a very beautiful young 
girl, had married an old man leads us to suspect that in the 
marriage of the parents the disinclination for the feminine 
role played some part. The marriage of the parents did not 
turn out happily. The mother ruled the house with clamor, 
and insisted upon having hier will carried out at all costs, 
and regardless of anyone else's pleasure. The old man was 
forced into his corner at every opportunity. The daughter 
narrated how her mother would not even allow her father 
to lie down upon the sofa to rest. Her mother's whole activity 
consisted in maintaining certain "principles of domestic 
economy" which she felt were desirable to enforce. These 
were an absolute law to the family. 



88 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

Our patient grew up a very capable child who was much 
pampered by the father. On the other hand, her mother 
was never satisfied with her and was always her enemy. 
Later, when a boy, toward whom the mother was far more 
favorable, was born, the relationship became unbearable. 
The little girl was conscious that she had a support in her 
father, who, no matter how modest and retiring he was in 
other things, could take up the cudgels when his daughter's 
interests were at stake. Thus she began to hate her mother 
cordially. 

In this stubborn conflict the cleanliness of the mother be- 
came the daughter's favorite point of attack. The mother was 
so pedantic in her cleanliness that she did not even allow the 
servant girl to touch a door knob without wiping it off later. 
The child made it a point of special pleasure to go about as 
dirty and ill clad as possible, and to soil the house whenever 
the occasion offered. 

She developed all those characteristics which were the 
exact opposite of that which her mother expected of her. 
This fact speaks very clearly against any inherited charac- 
teristics. If a child develops only those characteristics which 
must anger her mother almost to death, there is either a 
conscious or unconscious plan underlying them. The hate be- 
tween mother and child has lasted until the present day, and 
a more bitter belligerency could not be imagined. 

When this little girl was eight years old the following 
situation existed. The father was permanently on his daugh- 
ter's side; her mother went about with a bitter face, making 
pointed remarks, enforcing her "rules," and reproaching the 
girl. The girl, embittered and belligerent, availed herself of 
an extraordinary sarcasm which crippled the activity of her 
mother. An additional complicating factor was the valvular 
heart disease of the younger brother who was his mother's 
favorite and a very much pampered child, who used his sick- 
ness to hold the attentions of his mother to an even more 
intensive degree. One could observe the constantly thwarted 



SEX 89 

activities of the parents toward their children. Under such 
circumstances did this little girl grow up. 

It then occurred that she fell sick of a nervous ailment 
which no one could explain. Her sickness consisted in the 
fact that she was tortured by evil thoughts which were di- 
rected against her mother, the consequence of which was that 
she felt herself hindered in all her activities. Finally she 
occupied herself very deeply, and suddenly, and without suc- 
cess, in religion. After some time these evil thoughts disap- 
peared. Some medicine or other was given the credit for the 
disappearance, although it is more probable that her mother 
was forced into the defensive. A residue which expressed 
itself in a remarkable fear of thunder and lightning remained. 

The little girl believed that the thunder and lightning came 
only as a result of her bad conscience, and would some day 
cause her death because she had such evil thoughts. One can 
see how the child was attempting to free itself of its hate 
for its mother at this time. The development of the child 
went further, and it seemed that a bright future was beckon- 
ing her. The statement of a teacher who said: "This little 
girl could do anything that she wanted to! " had a great effect 
on her. These words are unimportant in themselves but for 
this girl they meant, "I can accomplish something if I wish." 
This realization was followed by an even greater intensity 
in the combat against her mother. 

Adolescence came, and she grew up into a beautiful young 
woman, became marriageable, and had many suitors; yet all 
opportunities of a relationship were broken off because of the 
peculiar sharpness of her tongue. She felt herself drawn only 
to one man, an elderly man who lived in her neighborhood, 
and everyone feared that some day she might marry him. 
But this man moved after some time and the girl remained, 
until she was twenty-six years old, without a suitor. In thb 
circles in which she moved this was very remarkable, and no 
one could explain it because no one understood her history, 
In the bitter battle which she had been carrying on against he* 



90 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

mother ever since her childhood, she had become unbearably 
quarrelsome. War was her victory. The behavior of her 
mother had constantly irritated this child and caused her to 
seek for fresh triumphs. A bitter word-battle was her greatest 
happiness; in this she showed her vanity. Her "masculine" 
attitude expressed itself also in that she desired such word 
battles only where she could conquer her opponent. 

When she was twenty-six years old' she made the acquaint- 
ance of a very honorable man who did not allow himself to 
be repulsed by her belligerent character and paid court to her 
very earnestly. He was very humble and submissive in his 
Upproach. Pressure from her relatives to marry this man led 
her to explain repeatedly that he was so very unpleasant to 
her that she could not think of marriage with him. This is not 
hard to understand when we know her character, yet after 
two years of resistance she finally accepted him in the deep 
conviction that she had made a slave of him, and thai she 
could do with this man whatever she wished. She had hoped 
secretly that she would find in him a second edition of her 
father, who would give in to her whenever she wanted. 

She soon learned that she had made a mistake. A few 
days after her marriage her husband was sitting in the room 
smoking his pipe and comfortably reading his paper. In the 
morning he left for his office, came home punctually for his 
meals, and grdmbled a little if his meals were not ready. He 
demanded cleanliness, tenderness, punctuality, and all man- 
ner of unjustified requests which she was not prepared to 
fulfill. The relationship was not even remotely similar to 
that which she had experienced between herself and her 
father. She tumbled out of all her dreams. The more she 
demanded, the less her husband acceded to her wishes, and 
the more he indicated her domestic role to her, the less he 
saw of her domestic activity. She did not lose the opportunity 
to remind him daily that he really had no right to make 
these requests, as she had expressly told him that she did not 
like him. This made absolutely no impression upon him. He 



SEX Ql 

continued his demands with an inexorableness which caused 
her to have very unhappy prospects for the future. In an 
intoxication of self-effacement this righteous, dutiful man 
had wooed her, but no sooner did he have her in his pos- 
session, than his intoxication had disappeared. 

No change in the lack of harmony which existed between 
them appeared when she became a mother. She was forced 
to assume new duties. In the meantime her relationship to 
her own mother, who was energetically taking up the cudgels 
for her son-in-law, became worse and worse. The constant 
warfare in her house was carried on with such heavy artillery 
that it is not to be wondered that her husband occasionally 
acted badly, and without consideration, and that occasionally 
the woman was right in her complaints. The behavior of her 
husband was the direct consequence of the fact that she was 
unapproachable, which, again, was a result of her lack of 
reconciliation with her womanliness. She had believed origi- 
nally that she could play her role of empress forever, that she 
could wander through life surrounded by a slave who would 
carry out all her wishes. Life would have been possible for 
her only under these circumstances. 

What could she do now? Should she divorce her husband 
and return to her mother and declare herself beaten? She 
was incapable of leading an independent life for she had 
never been prepared for it. A divorce would have been an 
insult to her pride and vanity. Life was misery for her; on 
the one hand her husband criticized her, and on the other 
side stood her mother with her heavy guns, preaching cleanli- 
ness and order. 

Suddenly she, too, became cleanly and orderly! She did 
washing and polishing and cleaning the whole day. It seemed 
as though she had finally seen the light, and had acquired 
the teachings which her mother had drummed into her ears 
for so many years. In the beginning her mother must have 
smiled, and her husband must have been pleased at this sud- 
den change of affairs, at the sight of this young woman 



g 2 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

emptying and cleaning bureaus, cabinets, and closets. But 
one can carry a thing like this too far. She washed and scoured 
so long, until there was not an unscrubbed shred in the house, 
and her zeal was so apparent that she was disturbed by every- 
one in her efforts; and in turn disturbed everyone else in her 
zeal. If she washed something and another touched it, then 
she would have to wash it again, and only she could do it. 

The disease which manifests itself in continual washing 
and cleaning is an extraordinarily frequent occurrence in 
women who are belligerent against their womanliness and 
attempt in this fashion to elevate themselves by their com- 
plete virtue in cleanliness, over those who do not wash them- 
selves so frequently. Unconsciously all these efforts are aimed 
solely at exploding the entire household. Few households 
were ever more disorderly than the household of this woman. 
Not cleanliness, but the discomfiture of her entire household, 
was her goal. 

We could tell of very many cases in which a reconciliation 
with the role of being a woman was only apparently true. 
That our patient had no friends among women, could get 
along with no one, and knew no consideration for another 
human being, fits very well into the pattern which we might 
have expected in her life. 

It will be necessary for us to evolve better methods of 
educating girls in the future, so that they shall be better pre- 
pared to reconcile themselves with life. Under the most fa- 
vorable circumstances it is occasionally impossible to effect 
this reconciliation with life, as in this case. The alleged in- 
feriority of woman is maintained in our age by law and 
tradition, though it is denied by anyone with a real psycho- 
logical insight. We must therefore be on the watch to recog- 
nize and counter the whole technique of society's mistaken 
behavior in this connection. We must take up the battle not 
because we have some pathologically exaggerated respect for 
woman, but because the present fallacious attitude negates 
the logic of our whole social life. 



SEX 93, 

Let us take this occasion to discuss another relationship 
which is often used in order to degrade woman: the so-called 
"dangerous age," that period which occurs about the fiftieth 
year, accompanied by the accentuation of certain character 
traits. Physical changes serve to indicate to woman in the 
menopause that the bitter time in which she must lose forever 
that little semblance of significance which she has so labori- 
ously built up during the course of her life has come. Under 
these circumstances she searches with redoubled efforts for 
any instrument which will be useful in maintaining her posi- 
tion, now grown more precarious than ever before. Our civili- 
zation is dominated by a principle in which present per- 
formance alone is a source of value; every aging individual, 
but especially a woman who is growing old, experiences diffi- 
culties at this time. The damage which is done to an aging 
woman by entirely undermining her value affects every human 
being, in so far as we cannot count our worth solely from 
day to day in the prime of life. What one has accomplished 
at the height of his activities must be credited to him during 
the years in which his powers and activity are of necessity 
lessened. It is not right to exclude someone entirely from the 
spiritual and material relationships of society simply because 
he is growing old. In the case of a woman this amounts to 
a virtual degradation and enslavement. Imagine the anxiety 
of an adolescent girl who thinks of this epoch in her life 
which lies in her future. Womanliness is not extinguished 
with the fiftieth year. The honor and worth of a human being 
lasts unaltered beyond this age. And it must be guaranteed. 

The foundations of all these unhappy manifestations are 
built upon the mistakes of our civilization. If our civilization 
is marked by a prejudice, then this prejudice reaches out 
and touches every aspect of that civilization, and is to be 
found in its every manifestation. The fallacy of the in- 
feriority of woman, and its corollary^ the superiority of man, 
constantly disturbs the harmony of the sexes. As a result, an 
unusual tension is introduced into all erotic relationships, 



94 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

thereby threatening, and often entirely annihilating, every 
chance for happiness between the sexes. Our whole love life 
is poisoned, distorted, and corroded by this tension. This 
explains why one so seldom finds a harmonious marriage, 
this is the reason so many children grow up in the feeling 
that marriage is something extremely difficult and dangerous. 

Prejudices such as we have described above prevent chil- 
dren, to a large measure, from understanding life adequately. 
Think of the numerous young girls who consider marriage 
only as a sort of emergency exit out of life, and think of 
those men and women who see in marriage only a necessary 
evil! The difficulties which originally grew out of this tension 
between the sexes have assumed gigantic proportions today. 
They become greater and greater the more clearly a girl 
acquires the tendency to avoid the sexual role which society 
compels her to assume and the more, in the case of a man, 
there is a desire to play the privileged role despite all the 
false logic in such behavior. 

Comradeship is the characteristic index of a true recon- 
ciliation with the sexual role, of a veritable equilibrium be- 
tween the sexes. A subordination of one individual to another 
in sexual relationships is just as unbearable as in the life of 
nations. Everyone should consider this problem very atten- 
tively since the difficulties which may arise for each partner 
from a mistaken attitude are considerable. This is an aspect 
of our life which is so widespread and important that every 
one of us is involved in it. It becomes the more complicated 
since in our day a child is forced into a behavior pattern 
which is a depreciation and negation of the other sex. 

A calm education certainly could overcome these diffi- 
culties, but the hurry of our days, the lack of really proved 
and tested educational methods, and particularly the com- 
petitive nature of our whole life which reaches even into 
the nursery, determine only too harshly the tendencies of 
later life. The fear which causes so many human beings to 
shrink from assuming any love relationships is caused largely 



SEX 95 

by the useless pressure which forces every man to prove his 
masculinity under all circumstances, even though he must do 
it by treachery and malice or force. 

That this serves to destroy all candor and trust in the love 
relationships is self -understood. The Don Juan is a man who 
doubts his own manliness, and is seeking constant additional 
evidence for it, in his conquests. The distrust which is so 
universal between the sexes prevents all frankness, and 
humanity as a whole suffers as a consequence. The exag- 
gerated masculine ideal signifies a constant challenge, a 
constant spur, a restlessness whose results naturally are only 
vanity and self-enrichment, maintenance of the "privileged" 
attitude; and all these, of course, are contrary to a healthy 
communal life. We have no reason to combat the former pur- 
poses of the emancipation-for-women movements. It is out 
duty to support them in their efforts to gain freedom and 
equality, because finally the happiness of the whole of hu- 
manity depends upon effecting such conditions that a woman 
will be enabled to be reconciled with her womanly role, just 
as the possibility of a man's adequate solution of his rela- 
tionship to woman likewise depends upon it. 

Of all the institutions which have been developed to better 
the relationship between the sexes, coeducation is the most 
important. This institution is not universally accepted ; it has 
its opponents, and its friends. Its friends maintain as their 
most powerful argument that, through coeducation, the two 
sexes have an opportunity to become acquainted with one 
another at an early date and that through this acquaintance- 
ship the fallacious prejudices, and their disastrous conse- 
quences, can be prevented in a measure. The opponents 
usually counter that boys and girls are already so different at 
the time that they enter school that their coeducation results 
only in accentuating these differences, because the boys feel 
themselves under pressure. This occurs because the spiritual 
development of girls advances more quickly than that of 
boys during the school years. These boys, under the necessity 



96 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

of carrying their privilege and giving evidence of the fact that 
they are more capable, must suddenly recognize that their 
privilege is only a soap bubble which in reality bursts very 
easily. Other investigators have maintained that in coeduca- 
tion boys become anxious in front of girls, and lose their 
self-esteem. 

There is no doubt that some measure of truth lies in these 
arguments, but they hold water only when we consider co- 
education in the sense of competition between the sexes for 
the prize of greater talent and capability. If that is what co- 
education means to teachers and pupils, it is a damaging 
doctrine. If we cannot find any teachers who have a better 
notion of coeducation, that is, that it represents a training 
and preparation for future cooperation between the sexes 
in communal tasks, then every attempt at coeducation must 
fail. Its opponents will see but an affirmation of their attitude 
in its failure. 

It would require the creative power of a poet to give an 
adequate picture of this whole situation. We must be content 
to indicate only the main points. An adolescent girl acts very 
much as though she were inferior, and what we have said 
concerning the compensation of organic inferiorities holds 
equally well for her. The difference is this: the belief in her 
inferiority is forced upon a girl by her environment. She is 
so irrevocably guided into this channel of behavior that even 
investigators with a great deal of insight have from time to 
time fallen into the fallacy of believing in her inferiority. 
The universal result of this fallacy is that both sexes have 
finally fallen into the hasty pudding of prestige politics, and 
each tries to play a role for which he is not suited. What 
happens? Both their lives become complicated, their rela- 
tionships are robbed of all candor, they become surfeited 
with fallacies and prejudices, in the face of which all hope of 
happiness vanishes. 



Ill 

LOVE 



THE PLAY-FUNCTION OF SEX 1 
By Havelock Ellis 

WHEN we hear the sexual functions spoken of we com- 
monly understand the performance of an act which normally 
tends to the propagation of the race. When we see the ques- 
tion of sexual abstinence discussed, when the desirability of 
sexual gratification is asserted or denied, when the idea arises 
of the erotic rights and needs of woman, it is always the same 
act with physical results that is chiefly in mind. Such a con- 
ception is quite adequate for practical working purposes in 
the social world. It enables us to deal with all our established 
human institutions in the sphere of sex, as arbitrary assump- 
tions of Euclid enable us to traverse the field of elementary 
geometry. But beyond these useful purposes it is inadequate 
and even inexact. The functions of sex on the psychic and 
erotic side are of far greater extension than any act of pro- 
creation, they may even exclude it altogether, and when we 
are concerned with the welfare of the individual human being 
we must enlarge our outlook and deepen our insight. 

There are, we know, two main functions in the sexual re- 
lationship, or what in the biological sense we term " mar- 
riage," among civilized human beings, the primary physio- 
logical function of begetting and bearing of offspring and 
the secondary spiritual function of furthering the higher 
mental and emotional processes. These are the main func- 
tions of the sexual impulse, and in order to understand any 
further object of the sexual relationship or even in order to 
understand all that is involved in the secondary object of 
marriage we must go beyond conscious motives and con- 

1 From Little Essays of Love and Virtue. Garden City: Double- 
day, Doran and Company, 1922. 

99 



IOO SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

sider the nature of the sexual impulse, physical and psychic, 
as rooted in the human organism. 

The human organism, as we know, is a machine on which 
excitations from without, streaming through the nerves and 
brain, effect internal work, and notably, stimulate the 
glandular system. In recent years the glandular system, and 
especially that of the ductless glands, has taken on an alto- 
gether new significance. These ductless glands, as we know, 
liberate into the blood what are termed "hormones," or 
chemical messengers, which have a complex but precise action 
in exciting and developing all those physical and psychic 
activities which make up a full life alike on the general side 
and the reproductive side, so that their balanced functions 
are essential to wholesome and complete existence. In a rudi- 
mentary form these functions may be traced back to our 
earliest ancestors who possessed brains. In those times the 
predominant sense for arousing the internal mental and emo- 
tional faculties was that of smell, the other senses being 
gradually evolved subsequently, and it is significant that 
the pituitary, one of the chief ductless glands active in our- 
selves today, was developed out of the nervous center for 
smell in conjunction with the membrane of the mouth. The 
energies of the whole organism were set in action through 
stimuli arising from the outside world by way of the sense 
of smell. In process of time the mechanism has become im- 
mensely elaborated, yet its healthy activity is ultimately 
dependent on a rich and varied action and reaction with the 
external world. It is becoming recognized that the tendency 
to pluri-glandular insufficiency with its resulting lack of 
organic harmony and equilibrium, can be counteracted by the 
physical and psychic stimuli of intimate contacts with the 
external world. In this action and reaction, moreover, we 
cannot distinguish between sexual ends and general ends. 
The activities of the ductless glands and their hormones 
equally serve both ends in ways that cannot be distinguished. 
"The individual metabolism," as a distinguished authority 



THE PLAY-FUNCTION OF SEX IOI 

in this field has expressed it, "is the reproductive metab- 
olism. " 2 Thus the establishment of our complete activities 
as human beings in the world is aided by, if not indeed ulti- 
mately dependent upon, a perpetual and many-sided play 
with our environment. 

It is thus that we arrive at the importance of the play- 
function, and thus, also, we realize that while it extends 
beyond the sexual sphere it yet definitely includes that sphere. 
There are at least three different ways of understanding the 
biological function of play. There is the conception of play, 
on which Groos has elaborately insisted, as education: the 
cat "plays" with the mouse and is thereby educating itself 
in the skill necessary to catch mice; all our human games 
are a training in qualities that are required in life, and that 
is why in England we continue to attribute to the Duke of 
Wellington the saying that "the battle of Waterloo was WOP 
on the playing fields of Eton." Then there is the conception 
of play as the utilization in art of the superfluous energies 
left unemployed in the practical work of life; this enlarging 
and harmonizing function of play, while in the lower ranges 
it may be spent trivially, leads in the higher ranges to the 
production of the most magnificent human achievements. But 
there is yet a third conception of play, according to which it 
exerts a direct internal influence health-giving, develop- 
mental, and balancing on the whole organism of the player 
himself. This conception is related to the other two, and yet 
distinct, for it is not primarily a definite education in specific 
kinds of life-conserving skill, although it may involve the 
acquisition of such skill, and it is not concerned with the 
construction of objective works of art, although by means 
of contact in human relationship it attains the wholesome 
organic effects which may be indirectly achieved by artistic 

2 W. Blair Bell, The Sex-Complex, 1920, p. 108. This book is a 
cautious and precise statement of the present state of knowledge on 
this subject, although some of the author's psychological deductions 
must be treated with circumspection. 



102 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

activities. It is in this sense that we are here concerned with 
what we may perhaps best call the play-function of sex. 3 

As thus understood, the play-function of sex is at once 
in an inseparable way both physical and psychic. It stimu- 
lates to wholesome activity all the complex and interrelated 
systems of the organism. At the same time it satisfies the 
most profound emotional impulses, controlling in harmonious 
poise the various mental instincts. Along these lines it neces- 
sarily tends in the end to go beyond its own sphere and to 
embrace and introduce into the sphere of sex the other two 
more objective fields of play, that, of play as education, and 
that of play as artistic creation. It may not be true, as was 
said of old time, "most of our arts and sciences were invented 
for love's sake." But it is certainly true that, in proportion 
as we truly and wisely exercise the play-function of sex, we 
are at the same time training our personality on the erotic 
side and acquiring a mastery of the art of love. 

The longer I live the more I realize the immense im- 
portance for the individual of the development through the 
play-function of erotic personality, and for human society of 
the acquirement of tfye art of love. At the same time I am 
ever more astonished at the rarity of erotic personality and 
the ignorance of the art of love even among those men and 
women, experienced in the exercise of procreation, in whom 
we might most confidently expect to find such development 
and such art. At times one feels hopeless at the thought that 
civilization in this supremely intimate field of life has yet 
achieved so little. For until it is generally possible to acquire 
erotic personality and to master the art of loving, the de- 
velopment of the individual man or woman is marred, the 
acquirement of human happiness and harmony remains im- 
possible. 

In entering this field, indeed, we not only have to gain 

8 The term seems to have been devised by Professor Maurice 
Parmelee, Personality and Conduct, 1918, pp. 104, 107, 113. But it 
is understood by Parmelee in a much vaguer and more extended 
sense than I have used it. 



THE PLAY-FUNCTION OF SEX 103 

true knowledge but to cast off false knowledge, and above 
all to purify our hearts from superstitions which have no 
connection with any kind of existing knowledge. We have to 
cease to regard as admirable the man who regards the ac- 
complishment of the procreative act, with the pleasurable 
relief it affords to himself, as the whole code of love. We have 
to treat with contempt the woman who abjectly accepts the 
act, and her own passivity therein, as the whole duty of love. 
We have to understand that the art of love has nothing to do 
with vice, and the acquirement of erotic personality nothing 
to do with sensuality. But we have also to realize that the 
art of love is far from beigg the attainment of a refined and 
luxurious self-indulgence, and the acquirement of erotic per- 
sonality of little worth unless it fortifies and enlarges the 
whole personality in all its aspects. Now all this is difficult, 
and for some people even painful ; to root up is a more serious 
matter than to sow; it cannot all be done in a day. 

It is not easy to form a clear picture of the erotic life ol 
the average man in our society. To the best informed among 
us knowledge in this field only comes slowly. Even when we 
have decided what may or may not be termed "average, n 
the sources of approach to this intimate sphere remain few 
and misleading; at the best the women a man loves remain 
far more illuminating sources of information than the man 
himself. The more one knows about him, however, the more 
one is convinced that, quite independently of the place we 
may feel inclined to afford to him in the scale of virtue, 
his conception of erotic personality, his ideas on the art of 
love, if they have any existence at all, are of a humble char- 
acter. As to the notion of play in the sphere of sex, even if he 
makes blundering attempts to practice it, that is for him 
something quite low down, something to be ashamed of, and 
he would not dream of associating it with anything he has 
been taught to regard as belonging to the spiritual sphere. 
The conception of "divine play" is meaningless to him. His 
fundamental ideas, his cherished ideals, in the erotic sphere, 



IO4 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

seem to be reducible to two: (i) He_wishesjtojgiweJ^a1^he 
and he experiences wfrat seems to him the pride 



of virility m_the success! uljittainment pj. .thatjjroof ; (p) he 
finds in the samTact the most satisfactory method of remov- 
ing sexual tension and in the ensuing relief one of the chief 
pleasures of life. It cannot be said that either of these ideals 
is absolutely unsound; each is part of the truth; it is only as 
a complete statement of the truth that they become patheti- 
cally inadequate. It is to be noted that both of them are 
based solely on the physical act of sexual conjunction, and 
that they are both exclusively self-regarding. So that they are, 
after all, although the nearest approach to the erotic sphere 
he may be able to find, yet still not really erotic. For love is 
not primarily self-regarding. It is the intimate, harmonious, 
combined play the play in the wide as well as in the more 
narrow sense we are here concerned with of two personali- 
ties. It would not be love if it were primarily self-regarding, 
and the act of intercourse, however essential to secure the 
propagation of the race, is only an incident, and not an 
essential in love. 

Let us turn to the average woman. Here the picture must 
usually be still more unsatisfactory. The man at least, crude 
as we may find his two fundamental notions to be, has at all 
events attained mental pride and physical satisfaction. The 
woman often attains neither, and since the man, by instinct 
or tradition, has maintained a self-regarding attitude, that is 
not surprising. The husband by primitive instinct partly, 
certainly by ancient tradition regards himself as the active 
partner in matters of love and his own pleasure as legiti- 
mately the prime motive for activity. His wife consequently 
falls into a complementary position, and regards herself as 
the passive partner and her pleasure as negligible, if not 
indeed as a thing to be rather ashamed of, should she by 
chance experience it. So that, while the husband is content 
with a mere simulacrum and pretense of the erotic life, the 
wife has often had none at all, 



THE PLAY-FUNCTION OF SEX IO$ 

Few people realize few indeed have the knowledge or the 
opportunity to realize how much women thus lose, alike 
in the means to fulfill their own lives and in the power to help 
others. A woman has a husband, she has marital relation- 
ships, she has children, she has all the usual domestic troubles 
it seems to the casual observer that she has everything 
that constitutes a fully developed matron fit to play her 
proper part in the home and in the world. Yet with all these 
experiences, which undoubtedly are an important part of life, 
she may yet remain on the emotional side and, as a matter 
of fact, frequently remains quite virginal, as immature as 
a schoolgirl. She has not acquired an erotic personality, she 
has not mastered the art of love, with the result that her 
whole nature remains ill-developed and unharmonized, and 
that she is incapable of bringing her personality having in- 
deed no achieved personality to bring to bear effectively on 
the problems of society and the world around her. 

That alone is a great misfortune, all the more tragic since 
under favorable conditions, which it should have been nat- 
ural to attain, it might so easily be avoided. But there is this 
further result, full of the possibilities of domestic tragedy, 
that the wife so situated, however innocent, however virtuous, 
may at any time find her virginally sensitive emotional 
nature fertilized by the touch of some other man than her 
husband. 

It happens so often. A girl who has been carefully guarded 
in the home, preserved from evil companions, preserved also 
from what her friends regarded as the contamination of 
sexual knowledge, a girl of high ideals, yet healthy and 
robust, is married to a man of whom she probably has little 
more than a conventional knowledge. Yet he may by good 
chance be the masculine counterpart of herself, well brought 
up, without sexual experience and ignorant of all but the 
elementary facts of sex, loyal and honorable, prepared to be, 
fitted to be, a devoted husband. The union seems to be of the 
happiest kind ; no one detects that anything is lacking to this 



106 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

perfect marriage; in course of time one or more children are 
born. But during all this time the husband has never really 
made love to his wife ; he has not even understood what court- 
ship in the intimate sense means; love as an art has no 
existence for him; he has loved his wife according to his 
imperfect knowledge, but he has never so much as realized 
that his knowledge was imperfect. She on her side loves her 
husband ; she comes in time indeed to have a sort of tender 
maternal feeling for him. Possibly she feels a little pleasure 
in intercourse with him. But she has never once been pro- 
foundly aroused, and she has never once been utterly satis- 
fied. The deep fountains of her nature have never been 
unsealed ; she has never been fertilized throughout her whole 
nature by their liberating influence; her erotic personality has 
never been developed. Then something happens. Perhaps the 
husband is called away, it may have been to take part in 
the Great War. The wife, whatever her tender solicitude for 
her absent partner, feels her solitude and is drawn nearer to 
friends, perhaps her husband 7 s friends. Some man among 
them becomes congenial to her. There need be no conscious 
or overt love-making on either side, and if there were the 
wife's loyalty might be aroused and the friendship brought 
to an end. Love-making is not indeed necessary. The wife's 
latent erotic needs, while still remaining unconscious, have 
come nearer to the surface ; now that she has grown mattfffe 
and that they have been stimulated yet unsatisfied for so 
long, they have, unknown to herself, become insistent and 
sensitive to a sympathetic touch. The friends may indeed 
grow into lovers, and then some sort of solution, by divorce, 
or intrigue scarcely, however, a desirable kind of solution 
becomes possible. But we are here taking the highest ground 
and assuming that honorable feeling, domestic affection, or 
a stern sense of moral duty, renders such solution unac- 
ceptable. In due course the husband returns, and then, to her 
utter dismay, the wife discovers, if she has not discovered it 
before, that during his absence, and for the first time in her 



THE PLAY-FUNCTION OF SEX 

life, she has fallen in love. She loyally confesses the situation 
to her husband, for whom her affection and attachment re- 
main the same as before, for what has happened to her is the 
coming of a totally new kind of love and not any change in 
her old love. The situation which arises is one of torturing 
anxiety for all concerned, and it is not less so when all con- 
cerned are animated by noble and self-sacrificing impulses. 
The husband in his devotion to his wife may even be willing 
that her new impulses should be gratified. She, on her side, 
will not think of yielding to desires which seem both unfair 
to her husband and opposed to all her moral traditions. We 
are not here concerned to consider the most likely, or the most 
desirable, exit from this unfortunate situation. The points 
to note are that it is a situation which today actually occurs; 
that it causes acute unhappiness to at least two people who 
may be of the finest physical and intellectual type and the 
noblest character, and that it might be avoided if there were 
at the outset a proper understanding of the married state and 
of the part which the art of love plays in married happiness 
and the development of personality. 

A woman may have been married once, she may have been 
married twice, she may have had children by both husbands, 
and yet it may not be until she is past the age of thirty and 
is united to a third man that she attains the development of 
erotic personality and all that it involves in the full flowering 
of her whole nature. Up to then she had to all appearance 
had all the essential experiences of life. Yet she had re^ 
mained spiritually virginal, with conventionally prim ideas 
of life, narrow in her sympathies, with the finest, noblest 
functions of her soul helpless and bound, at heart unhappy 
even if not clearly realizing that she was unhappy. Now she 
has become another person. The new liberated forces from 
within have not only enabled her to become sensitive to the 
rich complexities of intimate personal relationship, they have 
enlarged and harmonized her realization of all relationships. 
Her new erotic experience has not only stimulated all her 



IO8 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

energies, but her new knowledge has quickened all her sym- 
pathies. She feels, at the same time, more mentally alert, and 
she finds that she is more alive than before to the influences 
of nature and of art. Moreover, as others observe, however 
they may explain it, a new beauty has come into her face, a 
new radiancy into her expression, a new force into all her 
activities. Such is the exquisite flowering of love which some 
of us who may penetrate beneath the surface of life are now 
and then privileged to see. The sad part of it is that we see 
it so seldom and then often so late. 

It must not be supposed that there is any direct or speedy 
way of introducing into life a wider and deeper conception 
of the erotic play-function, and all that it means for the 
development of the individual, the enrichment of the mar- 
riage relationship, and the moral harmony of society. Such 
a supposition would merely be to vulgarize and to stultify 
the divine and elusive mystery. It is only slowly and in- 
directly that we can bring about the revolution which in this 
direction v/ould renew life. We may prepare the way for it 
by undermining and destroying those degrading traditional 
conceptions which have persisted so long that they are in- 
stilled into us almost from birth, to work like a virus in the 
heart, and to become almost a disease of the soul. To make 
way for the true and beautiful revelation, we can at least 
seek to cast, out those ancient growths, which may once have 
been true and beautiful, but now are false and poisonous. 
By casting out from us the conception of love as vile and 
unclean y.e shall purify the chambers of our hearts for the 
reception of love as something unspeakably holy. 

In this matter we may learn a lesson from the psycho- 
analysis of today without any implication that psycho- 
analysis is necessarily a desirable or even possible way of 
attaining the revelation of love. The wiser psychoanalysts 
insist that the process of liberating the individual from outer 
and inner influences that repress or deform his energies and 
impulses is effected by removing the inhibitions on the free- 



THE PLAY-FUNCTION OF SEX 109 

play of his nature. It is a process of education in the true 
sense, not of the suppression of natural impulses nor even 
of the instillation of sound rules and maxims for their con- 
trol, not of the pressing in but of the leading out of the in- 
dividual's special tendencies. 4 It removes inhibitions, even 
inhibitions that were placed upon the individual, or that he 
consciously or unconsciously placed upon himself, with the 
best moral intentions, and by so doing it allows a larger and 
freer and more natively spontaneous morality to come into 
play. It has this influence above all in the sphere of sex, 
where such inhibitions have been most powerfully laid on the 
native impulses, where the natural tendencies have been most 
surrounded by taboos and terrors, most tinged with artificial 
stains of impurity and degradation derived from alien and 
antiquated traditions. Thus the therapeutical experience of 
the psychoanalysts reenforces the lessons we learn from 
physiology and psychology and the intimate experiences of 
life. 

Sexual activity, we see, is not merely a bald propagative 
act, nor, when propagation is put aside, is it merely the 
relief of distended vessels. It is something more even than 
the foundation of great social institutions. It is the function 
by which all the finer activities of the organism, physical and 
psychic, may be developed and satisfied. Nothing, it has been 
said, is so serious as lust to use the beautiful term which 
has been degraded into the expression of the lowest forms 
of sensual pleasure and we have now to add that nothing 
is so full of play as love. Play is primarily the instinctive 
work of the brain, but it is brain activity united in the 
subtlest way to bodily activity. In the play-function of sex 
two forms of activity, physical and psychic, are most ex- 
quisitely and variously and harmoniously blended. We here 
understand best how it is that the brain organs and the 
sexual organs are, from the physiological standpoint, of equal 

4 See, for instance, H. W. Frink, Morbid Fears and Compulsions, 
1918, Chap. X. 



110 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

importance and equal dignity. Thus the adrenal glands, 
among the most influential of all the ductless glands, are 
specially and intimately associated alike with the brain and 
the sex organs. As we rise in the animal series, brain and 
adrenal glands march side by side in developmental increase 
of size, and at the same time, sexual activity and adrenal 
activity equally correspond. 

Lovers in their play when they have been liberated from 
the traditions which bound them to the trivial or the gross 
conception of play in love are thus moving amongst the 
highest human activities, alike of the body and of the soul. 
They are passing to each other the sacramental chalice of 
that wine which imparts the deepest joy that men and women 
can know. They are subtly weaving the invisible cords that 
bind husband and wife together more truly and more firmly 
than the priest of any church. And if in the end as may or 
may not be they attain the climax of free and complete 
union, then their human play has become one with that 
divine play of creation in which old poets fabled that, out 
of the dust of the ground and in his own image, some God 
of Chaos once created Man. 



IS SEXUALITY LOVE? 1 

By Grace Potter 

WHEN a subject is viewed psychoanalytically a peculiar 
difficulty arises. There is available for use in interpretation 
only that measure of psychoanalysis which one has put to 
active use in his own life. 

Psychoanalysis deals with human relationships, especially 
the part played in them by the Unconscious. As one has been 
psychoanalyzed only in proportion as the Unconscious has 
been made conscious, it comes about that interpretation of 
psychic material is possible only in the light of the individual's 
own development by it. One speaks, it could be said, through 
the medium of that completeness and harmony of being 
which has been achieved in one's own life. So what I say in 
my effort at a Freudian inquiry about some questions of in- 
terest to the birth control movement is to be taken as that 
part of Freudian principles which I have been able to ac- 
cept, in both thought and feeling. 

When Professor Sigmund Freud who developed and dis- 
covered the science of psychoanalysis was faced with the 
problem of deciding whether he should use the word "sexu- 
ality" or "love" in giving his theories to the world, he chose 
the former because he felt that otherwise he would be mak- 
ing a concession to the very prejudice and ignorance which 
his discoveries aimed to lessen, and which cause much of the 
failure and painful shortcomings of our culture. He knew 
that he was bound to be misunderstood either way. But he 
chose the way that would finally provide a further under- 
standing of the important fact that sexuality and love are 

1 From Religious and Ethical Aspects of Birth Control (edited by 
Margaret Ganger). The American Birth Control League, 1926. 

m 



112 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

in their completeness one and the same, and that they gi. 
hand in hand. 

So accepting the findings of a German doctor, a previous 
worker in this field, that sexual life begins in infancy, Freud's 
research shows that the pattern of this early sexuality, happy 
or otherwise, becomes in a way the pattern for all future ex- 
perience. Further, he found that it was to a failure in the sexual 
life that neurosis on the one hand and stupidity on the other 
were often due. Years then passed before the shock of these 
pronouncements subsided enough for the academic and sci- 
entific worlds to recognize that these truths held the germ 
for a more real culture and a greater humanity than any we 
had yet known. 

You will understand that I am not attempting to prove 
anything in this brief paper. I shall only briefly suggest here 
some of the effects which a distinction between the two 
ideas of love and sexuality seems to have had. From the 
psychoanalytic point of view one may ask whether the wide 
difference between love and sexuality, which our culture tries 
to make, may not have some bearing on three strange 
anomalies of this sometimes-called "scientific" age. The first 
anomaly is that we permit a law against birth control to re- 
main on our statute books and to be invoked against certain 
unfortunates, although birth control is a matter of course 
with almost everybody, and that to try anyone for an in- 
fringement of this law it would be impossible to assemble a 
court of those who are not guilty of habitually breaking the 
statute. The second is that we have no adequate method of 
birth control. By this let me explain that there has as yet been 
no scientific research to announce a method of birth control 
which satisfies both health and our aesthetic needs. The third 
is that a mother's pain at childbirth is regarded as sufficiently 
a part of the natural course of events, and even in some way 
"sacred" so that interference with that suffering might be 
thought of as thwarting both Nature and God, and surely 
therefore a questionable proceeding if not a sin. 



IS SEXUALITY LOVE? 113 

We may throw some light on these three facts if we turn 
our attention to the query as to whether there is a difference 
between love and sexuality. Perhaps we may say there is 3 
distinction which lies in the special aspect of a complex 
impulse which is being considered rather than in any inherent 
difference which divides them. 

Love is sometimes spoken of as sacred and profane, or 
Spiritual and physical. So sexuality might be spoken of as 
psychic and physical. Love in its development alternates, so 
to say, from the physical attributes of it which have their 
early beginnings in the youngest infant to the tender com- 
ponents which are well developed .at seven years of age. An- 
other maturing of physical components has taken place by 
puberty and again tenderness blooms before the t final cor- 
relation of all these is achieved and a harmonious mating is 
possible. A union which is on a purely physical basis is not 
even physically complete to a human being. It is not a mat- 
ing. Sexuality is often supposed to mean the merely physical 
aspect of love. But just as anyone who has been in love 
knows that IOVQ includes sexuality, so also does sexuality 
include love. Analytic examination of those who have tried 
to express a physical sexuality without any allied tender- 
ness has shown that such people do not achieve even a com- 
plete physical result. We may speak of one aspect of the 
complex impulse as love, another aspect we may as cor- 
rectly call sexuality. But these two aspects are so linked 
that we bring about better understanding to say that love and 
sexuality are really one and the same. With some of us the 
two impulses have been so divided by our education that we 
feel shocked at the suggestion that in the healthy harmonious 
individual they are inextricably interwoven. That is evidence 
of how mistaken so-called education can be. Those in whom 
the two aspects of the impulse have not been finally corre- 
lated suffer for it either in sickness or nervous symptoms or 
loss of power to work. They will make society suffer for it 



114 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

too by reflecting in all the social institutions they help to 
erect or support this split in the individual psyche. 

Love is developed in the little child by the giving up of his 
early partial trends of sexuality, by sublimating we say. So 
he develops tenderness. When later sexual maturity has been 
achieved, tenderness or love is waiting ready to add its power 
to its delayed but now more forcible physical relative. Freud 
speaks of two streams of interest, the tender stream and the 
physical stream. He who is fortunate enough to have the 
two unite at maturity can love and fully mate. One in whom 
the two remain divided will not know complete mating. He 
will feel, whether he consciously thinks so or not, that the 
two ideas of sexuality and love are different and cannot be 
experienced simultaneously in a relation with one person. 
He will wonder why mating is a matter of continual difficulty 
to him, and either he will spend much time trying in vain 
to achieve satisfactory sexual expression, or he may taboo 
it altogether and try to live "for love alone/' as he may say, 
\>r he may give up all consciotis interest in either love or sex. 

The child's early training has been, of. course, accom- 
panied by repression. Under the happiest circumstances, at 
the wise insistence of parents whose tenderness for him makes 
the sacrifice not too painful, the child gives up the early 
sexual interests which every normal child feels. This post- 
ponement develops tenderness in the child, increases his 
educability, lengthens his period of growth and provides a 
possibility for his development as an individual. Such a subli- 
mation is the basis for all culture. Such a child grown to 
maturity will be capable of feeling love and sexuality for 
the same person. 

But it does not always happen this way. Successfully 
achieved repressions are the exception, not the rule. The 
training of the child usually develops too painful repres- 
sions so that the very aim of repression is lost the happi- 
ness and health of the child is not achieved and he can 



IS SEXUALITY LOVE? 115 

make little or no contribution to society. Indeed he often 
has to take from the world more than ever he gives to it. 

Stupid or ignorant parents cause the child, through fear, to 
give up unwillingly what he would enjoy, or even by their 
attitude make it impossible for him to give up youthful 
trends which he learns to abhor and yet to which the too 
painful repressions bind him. It is this harsh or stupid 
training which leaves the impression in the child that he has 
no right to experience or knowledge of sexual matters, no 
right to satisfy his natural curiosity and that sexuality as 
such is somehow wicked. Denied a knowledge of sexual mat- 
ters which would allow for the psychic relief which the child's 
curiosity seeks, his physical impulses are harder than ever 
to deny. 

The normal child is, as we now know, curious about sexual 
matters. Unless his parents' attitude has prevented such 
questioning, he will begin to ask where children come from 
and what the differences in the bodies of brother and sister 
signify from the time he is about three years old. If his 
parents are painfully occupied (either consciously or uncon- 
sciously) in sexual matters, if they are either vulgar or 
prudish, as we say, the child may fear so to question. Either 
the vulgar or the prudish parent may inhibit the child from 
questioning or leave the child who does question with the 
impression that sexuality is wrong. With the feeling that 
sexual interest is wrong goes the second feeling that he has 
no right to sexual knowledge and the third feeling that one 
who feels sexual interest is to be punished. These three feel- 
ings, which have a painful bearing on the character and health 
of the individual, are often repressed completely out of 
consciousness. But in the unconscious they may do much 
harm. Nothing remains inactive in the unconscious. Feelings 
painfully repressed may rise to consciousness in a sort of 
childish disguise, years later. The child questioning about 
sex and made to feel very painfully that he is naughty so to 
question, or that sex knowledge is not for him, may grow up 



Il6 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

into an adult still suffering from that pain. Its path to con- 
sciousness direct may be closed by repression. Then it may 
find an indirect path and it may appear in a wish to keep 
from all the world any knowledge about sex which can be 
denied them, and a wish to impress upon the world in every 
possible way that sexuality is wrong and to demand pun- 
ishment for sexual experience. 

Some of the first most violent repressions result from the 
eager inquiries which the child from two to five makes as to 
where babies come from. The reproofs or misinformation 
given leave an indelible feeling that his inquiry was shameful. 
So too when he asks about his sexual organs, a sense of guilt 
is developed which may later darken and render painful 
every sexual experience of maturity. These effects may be 
unconscious to the individual but register themselves in the 
development of his glands, which as we know are so strongly 
affected by the emotional life, or they may register them- 
selves on other parts of his body, and also determine his 
psychic attitude toward life. Such unconscious ideas may 
exert enough power at this level of the unconscious so that 
they will somehow thwart every conscious, painfully con- 
certed effort and interest of the individual to love and be 
lovable. 

Could these unconscious forces repressed so painfully in 
our own childhood account for the fact that, as adults, we 
make laws against contraceptive information? It seems pos- 
sible. Repressed material does not stay "down." The child 
who was harshly denied a right to knowledge may, when a 
man, unconsciously react to that deprivation by a wish to 
deny this knowledge to others. Even more, he may feel by 
a compulsion from his own unconscious pain that it is his 
sacred duty to deny it to them. In other words, a wish to 
curtail the liberty of others to get knowledge is a reflectior 
of some especially painful curtailing of one's own childish 
efforts in an allied field. But this is not yet generally enough 



IS SEXUALITY LOVE? 117 

known or understood, and therefore we find people who think 
and feel they are cultured and who are yet eager for laws 
against sexual knowledge such as contraception. 

The same painful repressions might also be potent in keep- 
ing laws effective once they were made. All this would be a 
reaction to the painful experiences of childhood, still com- 
pelling actions in adult life because working at an uncon- 
scious level. Such a dominance by his own painfully de- 
veloped fantasy life keeps an individual from ever truly 
considering reality. The real factors of every adult person's 
need and right to birth control information become powerless 
to assert themselves against the painfully repressed and now 
unconscious experiences of childhood. 

We find here, however, a curious situation which illustrates 
the queer quirks of which the unconscious is capable and 
which makes us realize both how stupid and how cruel it 
can be. Few of us react to our unconscious compulsion to feel 
that sexual information is wrong by acting always as if it 
were wrong for us. Most of us are only quite sure it is 
wrong for other people. Thus it is that perhaps no one who 
works for laws against birth control information ever lacks 
such for himself, or ceases eagerly to look for all that is new 
in this way. 

Now we come to the question as to why indeed we have no 
adequate information to give about contraception. No in- 
formation that will enable intelligent mates to be confident 
that they may control birth without running the risk of 
sickness to one or the other, without any such disagreeable 
features as would make one or the other question whether 
deprivation itself were not less hard to bear. No informa^ 
tion that does not tend to do violence to such harmony be* 
tween lovers as is an accompaniment of tender love. For 
a method of control which fails in any such way cannot 
reasonably be called adequate. 

To quote what Professor Sigmund Freud said some years 



Il8 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

ago: "All the contraceptives available hitherto impair sexual 
enjoyment, disturb the finer susceptibilities of both partners, 
or even act as a direct cause of illness." Nevertheless, so far 
no research has announced an adequate means of prevention 
of conception. Much as we may regret this, it is undeniable 
to anyone who has earnestly followed the history of birth 
control all over the world that each preventive which has 
appeared has tended to injure health, or the rhythm of love 
itself, or in some way the aesthetic demands required of such 
methods. We know well enough that the scientists who do 
research believe in the grave necessity for adequate means of 
birth control. We know that those who have money to give for 
research believe in the necessity for it. We know that both 
groups by experience and education are aware that no such 
adequate means are available. We must feel then that it is 
remarkable that such research still remains to be made. How - 
can it be that no philanthropist has felt it necessary to his 
own peace of mind or has had such a wish to contribute to 
our culture that he has given the necessary hundreds of 
thousands of dollars for a scientific research for an adequate 
method of birth control? 

It seems that unsuccessful childhood repressions may ac- 
count both for our laws against birth control and foi our 
lack of adequate methods. Perhaps it is the same unconscious 
feeling of guilt about sexuality appearing in a differen/, way 
and at a deeper psychic level. We may say surely at a deeper 
psychic level, for to have no really adequate information is 
something which harms everyone, including even oneself. It 
seems that the feeling engendered in long ago childhood may 
now act to cut us off from knowledge which would further 
a more complete and happy love. Such an unconscious feel- 
ing could dominate our acts, even when our conscious minds 
have accepted the fact that the love life needs the support 
of science as truly as always it has had the support of art. 
it there were time it would be interesting here to go into 



IS SEXUALITY LOVE? IIQ 

the question of why it is that this unconscious guilty feeling 
about sexual knowledge finds it possible tcf express itself in 
an inhibition of scientific research. Perhaps a thorough under- 
standing of the forces working against what all of us in- 
terested in birth control greatly desire may result in making 
possible this very desired research for harmless and aesthetic 
methods of contraception. 

It seems that there is a third effect of this same uncon- 
scious guilty feeling which is also a serious detriment to our 
civilization. Today women as a matter of course suffer pain 
at childbirth. We do not any longer glorify that pain as much 
as our fathers used to do. We do not any longer think it so 
essential a part of sacred motherhood. But we do still "feel" 
it to be somehow so necessary a part of the birth of a child 
that the practical result is that women usually suffer great 
agony in bringing a child into the world. If it could be pre- 
vented we have not yet discovered how. 

We cannot quite account for this. But may we not per- 
haps see in it the working of the unconscious feeling, de- 
veloped in childhood, that one who has had sexual experience 
has sinned and should suffer? Perhaps so. Few consciously 
believe today that mothers in bearing children should suffer. 
But perhaps unconsciously we have enough of that attitude 
so that really in effect such suffering is not very effectually 
prevented. 

We have then three effects: our laws against contracep- 
tives, our lack of adequate contraceptive measures, and the 
tolerance of the suffering of women in childbirth, all of which 
evidently may be traced partly at least to the neurotic sense 
of guilt in regard to sex which our culture has fostered. And 
that guilt is also expressed directly in our division of sex- 
uality and love, so that there are those who cannot even 
discuss whether sexuality is possible without love and love 
without sexuality. The ceaseless searching after new sexual 
interests which is sure to ensue in those who try to experience 



120 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

sex without love we know can never be satisfied. Those who 
so search will always have starved hearts and often enough 
sick bodies. Psychoanalysis has yet to find anyone in whom 
sexuality exists without allied emotional needs, however 
deeply repressions have buried them. Not that the puritan 
ideal of love without sex is further from the truth than this 
vulgar ideal of sex without love. They are equally based on 
the too painful repressions of infancy. 

Repressions are a necessary part of culture. On them, as 
Freud has said, all civilization is built. Successful repressions 
take a part of the energy of the sexual instincts, after allow- 
ing for what is necessary for individual health, happiness and 
harmony, and deflect it to the uses of society. Those who 
have developed unsuccessful or too painful repressions not 
only make no contribution to the world which needs every 
man's aid, but they use up in their living more than they 
can contribute. They are inefficient in work, or sick so that 
they must be cared for, or unharmonious in their relations 
with other individuals, or often all three together. Also, it 
may be noted, in whichever way these painful and unsuc- 
cessful repressions are made, whether according to the puri- 
tan dictates, a repression of sexuality, or, according to the 
vulgar dictates, a repression of tenderness, they result in the 
end in difficulties that are curiously alike. The puritan with 
his negation becomes ill with much the same diseases that 
afflict his vulgar brother. Both may become mentally dis- 
turbed or even helpless from their repressions. Or they may 
be just stupid, inefficient creatures the sad world is full of 
them. 

The findings of psychoanalysis show, then, that what the 
world divides into sexuality and love are different aspects of 
one diversely-directed impulse. For either to be really ex- 
perienced in fullness they must be harmoniously allied. A 
poet who thought of love and sexuality as allied expresses 
what its result might be: 



IS SEXUALITY LOVE? 121 

Love some day shall make 

This world as sweet and right for life 

As ever mother made her body for our birth, 

A world wherein we'll know 

Because we dare to feel 

New curiosities and needs and pain, 

Beside just maudlin groping up from slime 

And we shall be 

Not only what now we aim to be 

But something else beside. 

Love shall teach us 

What this new being is 

That Man and Woman may becone. 

Love that shall bring peace 

And endless moments' ecstasy, 

To make us brave enough 

To dare the world again; 

Love that forms the lovers 

To visions and capacities 

Remote as new. 

Tkis love can do. 



SEX LOVE 1 

By Dora Russell 

THERE is no instinct that has been so maligned, suppressed, 
abused, and distorted by religious teaching as the instinct of 
sex. Yet sex love is the most intense instinctive pleasure 
known to men and women, and starvation or thwarting of 
this instinct causes more acute unhappiness than poverty, 
disease, or ignorance. I said that no men, with the exception, 
of course, of priests and other people of curious ethical 
standards, deprived themselves completely, or were deprived 
by the community, of their use of sexual functions. But 
traditional morality and early teaching, combined with the 
subjection of women, have robbed men of the spontaneous 
delight and vigor which should come to them through sex 
love. A man is taught never to indulge it the very word 
indulge is repulsive until he has found a woman with whom 
he is prepared to spend the whole of his life, and has been to 
church for a special ceremony allowing him to possess her 
and forcing her to obey him. Receiving what is virtually a 
slave, he is then told to approach her only in the spirit of 
holy reverence. Never again must he look affectionately upon 
or approach another woman. Till recently no serious restric- 
tions were laid upon men in regard to their lawful wives, but 
the improved position of women has led many religious peo- 
ple, including some Anglo-Catholics, to propose quite a new 
ruling, namely long periods of chastity within marriage, if it 
should be necessary for health, or other reasons, to limit the 
number of the family. The Roman Catholics openly advocate 
widespread celibacy for men and women, which is, for them, 

1 From The Right to be Happy. New York: Harper & Brothers, 
1927. 

"122 



SEX LOVE 123 

the most holy life and the only legitimate escape from 
parental responsibility. This teaching therefore quite clearly 
denies that sex is either a necessity or a lawful pleasure to 
men or to women and allows its indulgence only when the 
perpetuation of the race is desired. This is a perfectly natural 
result of the worship of fertility associated with agricultural 
superstitions. Yet anyone capable of examining his or her 
instincts without regard to prejudice associated with past 
environments finds that there is a clear division between the 
impulse to sexual enjoyment and the desire to have children. 
The primary motive involved in relations between men and 
women is the simple impulse towards sexual pleasure. This 
in primitive and ignorant communities obviously had a nat- 
ural result in the responsibility of parenthood. Parental de- 
lights were not foreseen, but followed on experience. Ex- 
perience in turn established a conscious tradition that the lack 
of offspring was a curse and a sorrow, their presence a bless- 
ing and a delight. Thus the conscious desire for parenthood 
arose as something separate from the sexual impulse. That 
there is any unconscious drive towards parenthood any 
paternal or maternal instinct is disputed. I think that there 
is, but that it is related rather to the phenomena of organic 
growth than to sex. But this is a subject for later discussion. 
Because parenthood involved responsibility and pain, it 
was seized upon by ascetic religion as the sole justification of 
sexual intercourse. The major errors of Christian teachers 
seem to me always to arise from the insistence on ends while 
suppressing and thwarting the natural and pleasant means 
to those ends. They are so intent on proving that human life 
is miserable, that they cause every result desired to be 
reached through pain. If it be possible to arrive by pleasure 
that route must be barred. This principle has been applied 
throughout government and education in Christian countries. 
Therefore our society has insisted on the duties of fathers 
and mothers, which were to many people the less pleasant 
part of the instinctive relations of men and women, and at 



124 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

the same time made every effort to poison and destroy the 
impulse to sexual pleasure. Expressions of parental feeling 
in a distorted form pervade our social customs and institu- 
tions, but it is important to notice that the impulse to sexual 
pleasure has never yet had its rightful place in shaping our 
society, because it has not been allowed recognition. The loss 
we have suffered is beyond measure, but happily not beyond 
repair. Sex is not only the source of some of the finest poetry 
and art, of heroisms, sacrifices, dreams; it is also the source 
of a very important human experience. In sex love, through 
physical sympathy and intimate union, we draw into our- 
selves as in no other way the understanding of another 
human personality, and the knowledge that two very dif- 
ferent creatures can live together in exquisite harmony. Such 
an experience alone, widespread, would be worth ten mil- 
lion platforms blaring pacifism. It gives, as nothing else can, 
the beauty oi human partnership in love, of mutual abandon- 
ment of distrust for mutual joy. Christianity, it is true, en- 
joins that the "twain become one flesh"; it has need to 
enjoin and enforce this, since all the rest of its teaching goes 
to prevent so miraculous a consummation. Yet supreme 
unions exist: they exist in spite, not because, of orthodox 
Christian doctrine. 

More important for us all than even a fuller exercise of 
sex functions is to realize that these functions are neither 
wicked nor obscene. Every one of us, man or woman, has 
been warped and corrupted in our innermost being by such 
teaching. Even those who repudiate the Christian synthesis 
and imagine themselves free of all prejudice, are a mass of 
tormenting inhibitions, doubts, and inconsistencies when they 
approach sex. Their imaginations remain filled with false 
notions of resU^nt_and refinement; they T^reak free and 
alternate between coarseness and self-pitying disgust. Moral- 
ists persist in imagining that those who speak of sex above 
a whisper are concerned only to advocate free love and ex- 
cess. It is something quite different, it is the abandonment of 



SEX LOVE 125 

a pernicious mental attitude, that we are demanding. No 
amount of license can cure our malaise in sexual matters so 
long as those who break loose continue to pay even lip- 
service to the notions of naughtiness, bawdiness, and sin. 
For these are only the reverse of abstention and asceticism, 
and nobody can feel them who is not at heart a puritan still. 2 
After the manner of repressed instincts set free sex is now 
stalking society seeking whom he may devour, and devouring 
many. You will not stay his ravages, any more than the 
ravages of hatred and fear, by chaining him up and giving 
him a good beating. Indeed, if you approach him without 
prejudice and menace you may find him neither so destruc- 
tive in his antics nor so hideous in his physiognomy as you 
imagined. He is far less dangerous to the human structure 
than drunkenness. Mystic horror has led us to exaggerate the 
potency of sex and therefore to suppose that to leave a man 
and woman together in isolation is to ensure what our law 
so confidently and comically terms "misconduct." Yet in the 
early days of free developing youth that is the least likely 
thing to happen. And a right education of young people, to- 
gether with the claims which work and the exercise of their 
other functions will make upon their energies, would ensure 
the postponement of full sex experience until an age at which 
it will not injure their development. By a right education 
I do not mean repression, but the imparting of many kinds 
of knowledge and the direction of all impulses to a happy life 
of varied activity. When men and women first embark upon 
sexual experience, I make no doubt that they will be occu- 
pied with inconstantly and experiment freely. That stage 
aoes not fast, for the selectiveness based upon experience very 

2 The French are commonly supposed to be free and civilized in 
sex matters. On the contrary, though their conduct may be free, the 
game is played according to rigid old-fashioned conventions, lover r 
wife, and husband feeling stereotyped emotions. Pleasure is de- 
liberately enhanced by insistence on spiciness and sin. The purity 
of young girls and the chastity of T3ieir~lrrotrfeT5~"aTe sacrosanct to 
Frenchmen, who are too conventional to understand freedom. 



126 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

speedily sets in. In this, greater freedom for women will play 
an important part. For, just as the moralist thinks every- 
body is out for free love, so does he think that free love 
means that no man or woman will ever refuse sexual favors 
to a person of the opposite sex. Yet large numbers of men 
and women who have freedom to experiment are not only 
most selective in love, but ultimately marry and never look 
at another man or woman for the rest of their lives, especiall) 
if they do not feel themselves compelled to this course o: 
conduct. Others seek occasional adventures outside a perma 
nent partnership. Others again do find that any permanency 
is distasteful. I incline to think that these people woulc 
prove to be rarer than either the prudish or the prurient 
imagine. After all, there are other pleasures~UesT<fes~ sex, 
though one might scarcely think so when one hears the 
puritans and the Freudians talking. 

What is there in this suggested freedom that is so dan- 
gerous and wicked other than its opposition to our tradi- 
tional prejudices? It would strengthen and broaden rather 
than weaken and damage character; it would add to our 
lives great variety and happiness. It would make the friend- 
ship of men and women a real thing rather than a strained 
relation forever hovering on the brink of an abyss towards 
which neither dare cast his eyes. 

We have been taught that incurable disease is the penalty 
of freedom, even that it is the Divine punishment of mortal 
sin. This is another of those superstitions, now exploded, 
which ignorance has set up as a barrier to joy. Do we forbid 
our children to have playmates, because from one or other 
of them they may catch scarlet fever? Sexual diseases, how- 
ever repulsive, are like any others, and are open to cure. 
Already science has mastered them, and but for our super- 
stitious morals, we should by now have eradicated them com- 
pletely. Obviously, where disease is present, our ethical code 
should enjoin honest avowal and temporary abstention. One 
may poitot out that neither the law nor the church of our 



SEX LOVE 127 

Christian state enjoins this even in marital relations. On the 
contrary, our social ethics prescribe a conspiracy of silence 
that protects husbands and treats the bodies of wives and 
possible children as chattels of no account. It ought to be 
an offense involving the indignation of the whole community 
and possibly the penalty of the law for anyone to infect 
another, man or woman. Private notification which would be 
followed by private free treatment should certainly be com- 
pulsory. If this were so, it might be safe and just to make 
it a punishable offense to" infect another human being. But 
all legal action in these matters is likely to lead to tyranny 
and abuse, and our best safeguard lies in an enlightened 
public opinion. It should, I think, continue to be an offense 
to force actual sex experience on the very young, but an 
offense usually calling for pathological treatment rather than 
castigation. I would not legislate against literature and pic- 
tures; the minds of freely taught people are quite adequately 
safeguarded. Repressive laws invariably lead to the prosecu- 
tion of works of art and to the free circulation of cunning 
suggestiveness. 

***** 

I do not think people realize, or will ever do so without 
changing their whole idea of what constitutes a woman, what 
sex starvation means in the 'ordinary lives of hundreds of 
thousands of men and women who earn their living. 3 The 
richer and more varied the personality the worse the effects 

8 In a report from Birmingham on unemployment pay (Times, 
July 30, 1925) the following passage occurs: "A more serious aspect 
of the case is the apparent readiness of both men and women to 
undertake the responsibility of the married state on the flimsy se- 
curity of the 'extended' benefit. . . . The peculiar frame of mind 
(my italics) which will enable a girl to leavt her employment and to 
become the bride of a man in receipt of 'standard* or 'extended' bene- 
fit is difficult to understand." I see nothing either peculiar or difficult 
to understand in a woman who takes the only road society allows 
her to the satisfaction of her two most vital instincts. Nor would 
anybody who had not been warped by two thousand years of 
Christianity, and the later superstition that economic security alone 
is the basis of happiness f 



128 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

of repression. Most of the trouble flows from our absolute 
refusal to separate the instincts of sex and parenthood in our 
social and economic structure. Thus a young man dare not 
marry until he has a good enough position to support a wife 
and a family. The more skilled and brilliant he is the less 
will he wish to hamper himself by these claims and anxieties. 
Therefore for many years he is balked and starved as all 
virtuous single women are or else he must go to a special 
type of woman whom society for convenience sake forces to 
sell her physical wares by direct barter. Yet men are hungry 
for a fuller companionship with women than a mere sex 
relation provides and they cannot get this from casual prosti- 
tutes. Rich men may find prostitutes as accomplished as 
the hetczra of ancient Greece, but poor men rarely. All use 
of sex outside marriage between men and young women 
reared to virtue means clandestine meetings and elaborate 
arrangements for secrecy. The penalties are still heavier for 
the women than the men. What can the woman worker do? 
She also must look upon marriage as parenthood with re- 
sponsibility and suffering. She has perhaps a bare livelihood. 
To marry a man of similar position means real hardship be- 
cause she must not continue at work. When children are 
added, she sees by the example of other women that she will 
have to starve herself to feed them and her husband. Like 
the man, the more valuable she is as an individual, the less 
will she wish to relinquish her other activities. The incentive 
to continue earning and lead a secret sexual life is obvious. 
Yet that solution may bring misery. There is the sense of 
social disapproval which enforces secrecy and the perpetual 
dread of discovery or an accidental pregnancy. A woman may 
feel that in sex she is merely claiming, as indeed she is, a 
right and need of her nature, but guilt, disaster, difficulty lie 
in wait for her on every side. What hinders us from establish- 
ing a social system in which young men and women who are 
out in the world earning may enter into open temporary sex 



SEX LOVE I2Q 

partnerships without harm to the work and legitimate ambi- 
tions of either? Nothing whatever except our false picture of 
woman and our ingrained ascetic belief that sex is wicked 
if enjoyed and not immediately succeeded by the pains, 
anxieties, and penalties of parenthood. Yet such companion- 
ship, not despised and concealed, would work great changes 
in the character of individuals. There would be fewer lonely, 
hard, and envious men and women, less anger and jealousy, 
more generosity and love the one kind of love that is really 
worth having, love based on understanding. The woman 
would not be primarily a sex creature, the man not there 
only to buy her favors. There would be holidays of mutual 
enjoyment, mutual discussion of all the problems of existence 
in which young and eager people delight. The day's work 
would be enlivened by the thought of the free and lovely 
companionship to come when it was over, of the other per- 
sonality ready to sympathize and discuss. Such companion- 
ship arises between people of the same sex, but it is from 
each other that men and women draw the deepest sense of 
peace and self-completion. The idea of sin must be banished, 
as must any demand for special service or sacrifice by the 
woman. (Men sometimes tend to regard free love as a means 
to getting their socks darned cheaply.) There would be pas- 
sionate griefs, disappointments and broken ideals, but none 
of this is so damaging to human personality as atrophy. We 
must have freedom and courage to learn if we are to be worth 
anything as human beings. And when these struggles are 
surmounted men and women often find they have been but 
the prelude to a symphony, a preparation for the most vital 
sex experience of their lives, which bears fruit in a union 
in which soul and body cry aloud: "For this, for this was I 
born!" 

To such a union each partner brings a knowledge of his 
own temperament and needs and a willingness and ability to 
understand the needs of the other, to such a union are 



I3O SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

added loved and wanted children. I want both freedom and 
honesty for men and women because I believe that neither 
spasmodic sex experience nor a strict marriage entered into 
in ignorance or frivolity can give men and women the poise 
and harmony which should come to them through sex. Hot- 
headed choice is often at fault and experience is the only 
trustworthy guide. Similarly impatience and egotism fre- 
quently break off a union that promises well, because the 
two people concerned are not able to live the open common 
life which might weld them into harmony. Presenting a 
spontaneous psychological unity to the world is a quality 
which distinguishes perfect sex unions. It is not always 
achieved at first even by people who are well matched and 
passionate lovers. Yet it should not involve an effort or it 
is unreal. 

^In the minds of very many people who are not conven- 
tionally moral or religious lingers the notion that since a 
supreme union between man and woman is possible, physical 
and emotional energies should be reserved until that union 
is found. Men frequently regret what the moralist calls pre- 
marital indiscretions, and pre-marital experience for women 
is definitely still thought a crime. In books on marriage and 
child-rearing by good doctors, intended for the average 
middle-class man and woman, one is astonished to find how 
traditional prejudice will prevent the authors from drawing 
the moral and political conclusions which flow quite obviously 
from their medical diagnosis. ' 

A doctor, for instance, will follow materialistic scientific 
psychology, and discount original sin in the rearing of young 
children, but he would not apply the same principles when 
it comes to labor troubles, or international rivalry. An expert 
spinster nurse will write pages of excellent advice on the 
feeding of children, and sheer dogmatic idiocy when she 
touches upon sex teaching. Books on marriage echo and re- 
echo with the sensitive delicacy of woman and the necessity 



SEX LOVE 131 

of avoiding shocks to her nerves. 4 1 cannot but feel that some- 
thing quite blunt must be said on the subject of male and 
female chastity and this alleged delicacy of women. Over 
and over again these books tell us how marriages go wrong 
through the ignorance of women and the brutality of men, 
and yet go on preaching the conventional doctrine of plant- 
ing down two people of complete inexperience in a marriage 
from which neither must seek to escape. It is admitted by 
these moralists that physical dissatisfaction will render such 
a marriage miserable, and that, when the complicated physical 
and psychical factors are all considered, the chances of suc- 
cess between two utterly inexperienced persons are very re- 
mote. A happy sexual life is, in fact, in a developed person- 
ality, the product not only of strong instinct but of art and 
science in its use. 

It is not impossible that a time may come when pre- 
marital experience will no longer be regarded as a crime, or 
even as an indiscretion. People may come to think it better 
for the ultimate happiness of men and women if the affections 
and emotions are not too deeply entangled in their first ex- 
periences of sex. The idea that we fritter away our emotions 
and energy does not hold good of people whose training has 
not led to too great concentration on the sexual aspect of 
their lives. On the contrary, the maladjustments which may 
come at first and cause angry reactions against the person 
with whom they are associated, disappear as we grow more 
fully awake to the technique of sex, and we become more 
capable of an important, deep and happy sex union. The 
"superstition of chastity" is a part of that same false psy- 
chology which makes moral virtue consist in emptiness and 
abstention. Chastity for women has been a part of ethical 
teaching in nearly all societies where men were dominant. 

4 The books here referred to are: Health in Children, 1925; 
Mothercraft, Miss Liddiard, of the Truby King Institute at EarPs 
Court \Hygiene in Marriage, Dr. Isabel Emslie Hutton, 1923. See also 
The Child, His Nature and His Needs, Children's Foundation, Val- 
paraiso, 1925. 



132 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

It is associated primarily with property and children, and 
the desire to make sure of descent when it is traced through 
the male line. This has led to the caging of women both 
before and after marriage under the patriarchal system. Alike 
in Greece, China, Mohammedan and Christian countries in- 
sistence on female chastity has prevailed. It has become dis- 
sociated from its original purpose and has been valued for 
its own sake, with serious and far-reaching results. In Greece 
we find that the goddess of chastity is associated in men's 
minds with the pursuit of hunting. Artemis herself is a 
huntress, pure and boyish in her athletic integrity. But she 
suggests also the fleet doe which she hunts, and the pleasure 
of man in the primitive pursuit of a woman to conquer her 
virginity. 

Sex love thus acquires, as in Christian countries, the aspect 
of a chase, which ends when the woman is finally caught and 
subdued. The refinements of chivalrous love in medieval 
times express the same feeling tempered to a more exquisite 
sensation by ascetic delicacy. The lady is adored by her 
lover from afar, and to possess her would spoil the refinement 
of emotion. This much lauded chivalrous love is really no 
more than the play of vanity in man and woman and the 
pleasure of gloating anticipation. The same thing appears 
in eighteenth century intrigue. The gallant strings conquered 
women on to his vanity as a Red Indian strings scalps to 
his girdle. Love is sought, not because the woman will be 
a prized and honored companion, but because it has a tang 
of wickedness, and a delight to vanity like that of the hunter 
who returns with a big bag from his day's sport. Compari- 
sons between pursued and charming women and wounded 
birds or terrified wild creatures appear in the talk and writ- 
ings of gallant old gentlemen of the Victorian age. The 
theory of woman's delicacy, her distaste for sex, her horror 
and dread in capture, all of them reenforced by mediaeval 
asceticism, make this pursuit peculiarly delightful and bru- 
talizing to the male. Women have played the horrible game 



SEX LOVE 133 

till they are sick of it, or so obsessed b it that they feel it 
to be a reality. Even those who claim to enlighten them on 
sex are teaching them to play it still. The psychological re- 
sults are deplorable. Enormous numbers of middle-class and 
working women apparently still despise their husbands as 
people of an inferior animal nature, whose desires a woman 
may condone in loving-kindness but can never share. Mar- 
ried life is a series of shocks to delicate nerves, against which 
the woman erects barriers of artificial separations and re- 
finements, continuing to play the game of coyness which 
she has been taught to regard as necessary to retain a man's 
affections. 5 For this is the lamentable consequence of the 
superstition of chastity, that it leads people to look on mar- 
riage as the end rather than the beginning of happiness. The 
hunt is over, the quarry run to earth. Woman perhaps in 
modern times has been the huntress. The effect is the same, 
excitement dies and emptiness lays a cold hand on lovers' 
ardors. As we have learnt not to seek happiness in this 
world, but to wait for it till we reach heaven, so do we dream 
of that perfect wife or perfect husband whom in our folly 
we believe the world of real men and women cannot provide. 
Valuing chastity above love, and the chase above its ending, 
we come to believe that there is no happiness which, when 
we hold it close and clasp it to our hungry hearts, will not 
turn to dust and ashes in our hands. Therefore men and 
women flee from deep love as from a prison and dread mar- 
riage as a snare set for their unwary feet. Therefore not only 
in sex love, but in every activity of life men and women 
develop an attitude of dissatisfaction, waiting and longing, 
which blinds them to the fullness and beauty which even 
now may be theirs. 

If women really desire an individual life, freedom and a 
part in the cultural development of the race, they must not 
only fight for the right to do any man's work of which they 

5 Cf. the early days of marriage between Rousseau's Sophie and 
Emile. 



134 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

are mentally and physically capable, they must also be more 
honest and frank about their instinctive nature and its func- 
tions. Why should they seek only the traditional life of a 
woman or the traditional life of a man? Why try to combine 
these two, whose traditional philosophies are quite separate 
and mutually exclusive? Because men have so long ruled 
the world, it does not follow that the philosophy by which 
they have ruled it is the correct one. Nor does it follow that 
if woman rules she should do so in accordance with a picture 
of her nature almost wholly drawn by the religion and 
philosophy of men. Why all this feminine delicacy? If we 
are hysterical and timid about our animal desires and func- 
tions and cannot have the courage to be honest, that is a 
thing to be ashamed of, not a reason for boasting and spe- 
cial consideration. Men have pushed on to us all the reticence 
and virtue, we in turn push on to them all the brutality and 
vice. We incite them to brutality by the pretense of cold- 
ness, that we may escape the sin of the flesh by escaping 
the responsibility for aggression. Strength and health of 
body and honesty of mind would soon show that the modesty 
and sensitiveness of woman associated with this "shock" of 
marriage and her bodily changes, is as much a hysteria as the 
Victorian swoon at a man's declaration of love. 

Clearly, in a society which assumes in woman a dislike 
of physical love, women can reap a great economic advan- 
tage by keeping up the pretense. They get paid for sex, be- 
cause they are deemed to dislike it. Formerly the plea was 
just, because sex in marriage involved unlimited child- 
bearing, and sex outside degradation and misery, for which 
no amount of riches and fine clothes could compensate. Now, 
however, women can make men and society reward them for 
what is their pleasure, and on the plea of delicacy, escape 
even the pains of maternity. Everybody except the society 
butterfly and her imitators stands to gain by dropping this 
pretense about woman's ethereal nature and her hypocritical 
assumption of sole guardianship over what is civilized and 



SEX LOVE 135 

moral. Women should be paid, not for sex, which, if they 
were honest and robust, they would admit as a pleasure, but 
for maternity, which, though it, too, is a pleasure, is also a 
responsibility and a communal service. What women from 
their instinctive nature can bring to civilization is a warm 
physical and mental companionship in place of cold and 
genteel condescension, and a clear and scientific statement 
not moralizing and sentimental of the claims of maternity 
and child life on the political and economic system. 

In sex life I believe that women who were free and honest 
would find that they did not differ very greatly from men. 
They would feel strong impulses towards some men, others 
they would feel to be sexually tolerable, others would sug- 
gest indifference or repulsion. Women are, I believe, more 
selective than men, but it is less easy for them to be selective 
without experience. They are not, as is commonly supposed, 
invariably entangled emotionally and hysterically in love; 
like men, they have great and small passions, and can learn 
by experience to choose a partner for permanence and parent- 
hood. It is said that the sex impulse in women can flourish 
only at the expense of maternity. I think this view derives 
from past times when large families completely absorbed a 
woman's physical strength and emotional energy, so much 
so that the husband frequently felt himself cheated of the 
love he sought in mating. This led to the painful division 
between maternal women and the childless women sought 
by men for sexual love. In actual fact a woman is as capable 
as a man of combining love of a mate, parenthood and 
physical or intellectual work. Like so many things which 
people insist upon treating as matters of principle, this is 
purely a quantitative question. It depends on the physical 
and mental energy of the woman concerned, the number of 
her children, the economic status of the family. When op- 
ponents of birth control argue that it makes of marriage 
legalized prostitution, they mean simply that it might enable 
f rr,an and woman to continue enjoying holy wedlock because 



SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

they would retain health and a freedom from too great 
anxiety. It is alleged by many people, who profess to speak 
not ethically but from science, that but for the fear of chil- 
dren men would be savage and brutal and exhaust their 
wives, and even themselves, by excess. I do not believe this 
is possible for healthy, hard-working people within mar- 
riage, and birth control aims above all at conserving the 
physical and emotional energy of the wife. Apart from this, 
it is psychologically true that brutality is the reaction to 
coldness. A real sex union does not perpetuate the emotions 
of the chase, and a warm and physical love from a woman 
in some way stills the hunger of a man for the blunt sexual 
experience. Somehow two people who are really one flesh have 
less need to be constantly proving it. If the delicate woman 
really desires to diminish the dreaded masculine rapacity, 
her artificial barriers and niceties are a gross error in psy- 
chology. The civilizing of sex, as of everything else, lies in 
the thought and emotion which give varied and supple ex- 
pression to primitive passion, not in checks and suppressions 
of the passion itself. 



IV 

MARRIAGE 



SEX AND MARRIAGE 1 

By Robert H. Lowie 

PRIMITIVE society does not allow its members to gratify 
their lust at will; hence there is no such thing as real 
promiscuity. Parent and child are never permitted to mate ; 
brother and sister, very rarely. Often the rules are stricter 
than with us: fifth cousins are prohibited, and by sheer fic- 
tion even unrelated individuals rate as kin. About some un~ 
forbidden forms of sexual intercourse savage society is merely 
indifferent; others are positively approved, and stable unions 
of this sort may be called marriages. 

An Australian was killed if he cohabited with a woman 
of the wrong group. No one cared if he slept with a woman 
of the right group. From the latter the elders of the tribe 
allotted to him a girl he married. 

Western civilization also approves, tolerates, and con- 
demns, but profession and practice do not tally so well as 
among savages. Until recently cohabitation was sanctioned 
only by a religious ceremony, which normally created a life- 
long bond. However, bachelors were not outlawed for sow- 
ing their wild oats; and Dr. Samuel Johnson, devout church- 
i|fen and moralist that he was, considered a married man's 
amours mere peccadilloes. On the other hand, single women 
became outcasts by losing their virginity, and so did wives 
by unfaithfulness to their husbands. That natural children 
should be regarded as bastards was a foregone conclusion. 
In practice, only those suffered who were without influence. 
A king's mistress was not treated as a streetwalker: the 
virtuous Empress Maria Theresa stooped -to write polite 

iprom Are We Civilized? New York: Harcourt, Brace and Com- 
pany, 1929. 

139 



I4O SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

letters to Madame de Pompadour and admonished Marie 
Antoinette to be nice to Madame du Barry. Humane senti- 
ments also tempered behavior towards the bastards of princes. 

Present custom in civilized countries varies and is in a 
flux; hence no general statement can be made to hold for 
all. Some substitute a legal for the religious rite. Divorce 
and remarriage are common. There are European states 
which ignore the difference between legitimate and natural 
children. In some circles equal freedom for both sexes is 
preached and practiced; others in the same countries cling 
to the old standards. What we nowadays call conservative 
and radical positions as to sex both occur in different primi- 
tive societies. 

Among the Northern Plains Indians the double standard 
of conservatism held sway. Parents encouraged their sons to 
be gay young blades and bade their daughters beware of 
philanderers from other families. In a woman chastity was 
highly prized, though hardly expected. Girls who fell were 
not beyond the pale. But they would not fetch large offers 
of horses from a suitor, and some rites in the Sun Dance 
could be performed only by absolutely pure married women. 
There was surely more illicit intercourse than in the middle- 
class homes of Victorian Europe; there was perhaps less if 
we take into account the customs of the countryside and the 
prostitution of the cities. Real differences existed: a Crow 
or Blackfoot might be legal husband to two or more wives, 
and divorce was common, being in no wise hindered by au- 
thority. But in the ideals of sexual behavior there was much 
similarity: men were to be red-blooded Lotharios, and women 
saints; and stable unions ranked higher than loose ones. 

But in other regions we find the radical pattern of free 
love. Off the coast of New Guinea lie the Trobriands where 
a girl is never a virgin at marriage. From a child she plays 
at the sex game; when older she sleeps with the youths of 
the village in the bachelors 7 hall; she becomes a particular 
boy's sweetheart; and finally the two set up a permanent 



SEX AND MARRIAGE 141 

household. Similarly, among the Masai of East Africa the 
young braves, to the number of fifty or a hundred, sleep 
in a dormitory of their own, the hut being shared by the 
young girls. Each warrior has his own mistress, who remains 
loyal so long as he is about. Should he go off for a single day, 
she takes up with another lover. Pregnancy, however, is a 
disgrace, which is staved off by artificial means. 

Is this not promiscuity? It is not. For even this free and 
easy life has its limitations. One of them is not less quaint 
than the recently abolished British law forbidding a widower 
to marry his wife's sister. Though a girl mates with almost 
any other bachelor in the neighborhood, with her fiance she 
must not sleep, and to prevent that she is sent to another 
dormitory. Further, both in youth and later there are fixed 
limits to license. Blood-relatives do not consort with each 
other, nor do people in the same subdivision of the tribe. A 
man may not mate with his foster-sister or wed two women 
in the same clan. He is further restricted to his own age- 
class and must not stoop to the daughter of a blacksmith. 

In short, there is no promiscuity. But there is license, be- 
fore, in, and outside of marriage. For the Masai are not like 
some other tribes that allow free love in youth, yet limit it 
in wedlock. Husbands exchange bedfellows; a host turns 
over his wife and hut to a guest; widows and divorcees live 
out of wedlock, but uncensured, with men of their husbands' 
age. 

However, the Masai clearly distinguish between marriage 
and licensed fornication. Here, as elsewhere, the object of 
marriage is not indulgence of the flesh but a home and 
children. Of this, more anon; let us first see how one gets 
a spouse. 

Primitive tribes generally dispose of their daughters at 
puberty. This explains why girls are often not consulted as 
to their marriages. At fourteen or thereabouts they do not 
know what is good for them. (Their parents do not either, 
but they can hardly be expected to realize that.) When it was 



142 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

the European custom to marry off daughters young, their in- 
clinations counted for little. Experience shows that neither 
arrangement by parents nor free choice guarantees happiness, 
but that is immaterial for everyone but the couple in 
question. 

With us and with savages what counted was other con- 
siderations, in some respects alike. Marriage took care of 
the daughter's sex life; it gave the husband the children 
he coveted; and it cemented a bond between two families. 
There was a difference, however, imposed by economic condi- 
tions. Primitive woman was an economic asset; why then 
give her up gratis? Compensation could be secured in several 
ways. In Australia and New Guinea two households having 
each a son and a daughter swap girls; each youth is thus 
provided with a wife in the least troublesome way. Elsewhere 
the suitor goes to live with his parents-in-law and for a year 
or more plays the part of servant to them. Or instead of such 
service he may offer a bride-price. 

On the primitive level there is nothing degrading about 
the purchase of a woman. It was the highest form of mar- 
riage recognized by the Crow the one most honorable for a 
girl. In a love match the man was trying to get something for 
nothing, he was "stealing" his sweetheart. Such unions were 
not likely to last long. But when a man paid ten horses for 
a girl, it was proof that he esteemed her for not being a spit- 
fire or a gadabout; and then the marriage was likely to be 
stable. Northwest Californians stressed purchase even more, 
for the offspring of an unbought woman were reckoned bas- 
tards and excluded from the men's club. 

Because marriage was a contract of families, certain cus- 
toms naturally sprang up. When a man in north central Cali- 
fornia got his bride, his brothers and cousins usually chipped 
in to make up the "purse" required. Nothing more natural, 
then, than that if the husband died, one of his kinsmen should 
inherit the widow. On the other hand, if a woman died, her 
family would send a sister br cousin to take her place. Often 



SEX AND MARRIAGE 143 

two or more sisters might be wives at the same time: a Plains 
Indian paid for the eldest and married others as they came 
of age. 

Interesting consequences flow from the idea of women as 
economic goods. They come to form the main part of a 
Negro's estate, so that his eldest son will inherit all wives 
except his own mother. Divorce logically implies return of 
the price paid. Adultery becomes trespass on property rights, 
calling for indemnification. Again, there is a logical develop- 
ment of the ruder Australian system of exchange, by which 
a youth obtained a wife through a trade of sisters. In the 
more complex African conditions, the same result is achieved 
by storing the amount "pocketed" for a daughter in order 
to pay for a son's spouse. Finally, though there is no end to 
legal possibilities, a father can get a loan on the security 
of a small daughter. He can borrow a heifer and a bull even 
on the merest prospect of having his wife bear a girl. 

Marriage, then, is a contract. But the conditions implied 
in it vary. When a Kai in New Guinea pays for his wife, she 
becomes his property, to be inherited by his heirs and pun- 
ishable for infidelity. But he gains control neither over her 
chattels nor over her issue: both belong to her and her kin. 
Contrast with this the common Negro idea of purchase. Here 
what the husband craves and secures is progeny. When he 
has paid the full price, he is entitled to children, and barren- 
ness becomes the chief cause of divorce. The views of the 
Lango on the upper Nile are typical: "Infecundity brings 
more shame and disrepute on a woman than the most riotous 
living." But it is the recipients of the bride-price that are 
responsible, having failed in the implied contractual obliga- 
tion. Hence the payment is returned, or a sister of the wife's 
is given to the husband gratis. Further, the price paid for a 
wife entitles the husband to alt her offspring thereafter. 
Henqe, in flat contradiction to our ideas, the results of adul- 
terous matings are legally children of their mother's pur- 
chaser. Their blood-father has no claims upon them whatso- 



144 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

ever. This is a common principle of African law. The Masai, 
for example, cannot always know who begot a particular 
infant. That, however, does not matter, for its legal relation- 
ship is fixed by payment for the mother. 

Where women are bought, a rich man naturally buys two 
or more wives. Polygamy is hardly ever founded on mascu- 
line lechery, which can be satisfied outside of wedlock. But 
a Siberian with several herds of reindeer needs a wife for 
each, and a Negro with large tracts of land to till can put 
several women to hoeing. Sometimes a sexual reason also 
occurs: a Lango is forbidden to sleep with his wife until her 
child is weaned, and since it is nursed for nearly three years 
he turns to other wives. In no case do the natives consider 
the practice degrading. Generally the first wife herself twits 
a man with being a miser if he fails to buy her an assistant, 
and thus goads him into getting a second spouse. 

However, considering that about an equal number of male 
and female children are born into this world, polygamy can 
never be common in a community unless there has been 
tampering with the normal ratio. For instance, if men are 
regularly killed off in war or on dangerous seal-hunting ex- 
peditions, an excess of women results. Or, as in Africa, the 
chiefs and wealthy men may seize an undue share of the 
females, letting the rest of the men go hang. These others 
prefer,, however, to seduce the married women of the land. 
In most savage societies polygamy is not forbidden; yet 
most unions are monogamous. For wherever people are more 
or less on a level of equality, the tendency will be to follow 
the natural ratio of the sexes. 

A rarer form of polygamy develops when infant girls are 
killed in large numbers usually because of the hard strug- 
gle for existence. Then there results an excess of men, as in 
southern India; hence a woman will have several husbands. 
But since blood-fatherhood matters as little here as else- 
where, it is easy to assign children to their social fathers. 

Primitive monogamy need not be any more "moral" than 



SEX AND MARRIAGE 1 45 

polygamy. Marriage is rarely sacramental; hence divorce 
is easy and frequent. The Greenlanders, though not forbid- 
ding polygamy, are mostly content with one husband or wife ; 
but Captain Holm found a girl barely twenty years old who 
had just left her sixth mate. The Hopi prescribe a single 
wife, but the partners are constantly shifting: it is "progres- 
sive" or "brittle" monogamy. Characteristically, however, 
unions always become more stable after the birth of children. 

To sum up. The sex life of all civilized and all savage 
peoples is at bottom amazingly similar. What varies quite 
as remarkably is the emphasis on this or that feature, the 
appraisal of the same behavior. Modern prostitution enables 
a man to cohabit with an indefinite number of women, each 
having a similar range of partners. This, then, combines the 
two forms of polygamy that occur among savages. How does 
the Masai plan differ? It differs in that all the girls of a com- 
munity share the experience of multiple sex relations, that 
accordingly none of them is outlawed, and that their favors 
are not for sale. Here it is the legal wife that is bought, and 
not mainly for sexual purposes. The traditional European 
father spurns the bastard foisted upon him by an adulterous 
wife; the African insists that all her children, begotten by 
whomsoever, shall be his. 

There.is not a single custom, a single sentiment, connected 
with Western marriage that cannot be paralleled from some 
savage people; and not one that is not proved conventional 
by the practice of other societies. Some tribes sanction male 
jealousy: a Blackfoot had the right to slice off his wife's nose 
to punish adultery. But the Masai share wives with age- 
mates, and some tribes regard infidelity as irrelevant to 
divorce. There are always prohibited degrees, but the lines 
are differently drawn. The Lango forbid marriage with any- 
one no matter how remotely related on either the father's 
or the mother's side. Some West Australians, on the other 
hand, insist on a man's marrying his maternal uncle's daugh- 
ter. So there is endless diversity on the basis of the selfsame 



146 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

instinct of reproduction. Yet again there is likeness, not in 
the concrete sex behavior or philosophy, but in that every- 
where without exception some modes of intercourse are lifted 
above the rest as more dignified because bound up with the 
maintenance of society. 

But what of love among savages? Can it flourish in the 
midst of such looseness and prudential considerations? Pas- 
sion, of course, is taken for granted; affection, which many 
travelers vouch for, might be conceded; but Love? Well, the 
romantic sentiment occurs in simpler conditions as with 
us in fiction. A Plains Indian story shows the Sun himself 
smitten with the beauty of a maiden and luring her to the 
sky. Heroes set out to achieve deeds of derring-do "all for 
the love of a lady/ 7 Orpheus-like, a husband follows his 
beloved wife to the land of spirits; and even in historical 
tradition a young woman braves a long trip through hostile 
country to rescue her crippled lover. In frigid Siberia a love- 
sick Yukaghir maiden scratches her desires on a sheet of 
birchbark: it is the only outlet society allows. The symbols 
are oddly conventional: a figure like a folded umbrella repre- 
sents the youth ; a wider sample of the same design, the artist 
herself; crossing stripes above her betoken grief, connecting 
bars indicate love; and an incomplete house means desertion. 
So the girl can utter her plaint "Thou goest hence, and I 
bide alone. For thy sake I weep and moan." 

Yukaghir women are no better than they should be, but 
there is more than fleshly lust in these birchbark letters faith- 
fully transcribed for us by Dr. Jochelson. They breathe the 
same wistful longing one meets now and then in the primi- 
tive tales that register the teller's outlook on life. So Love 
exists for the savage as it does for ourselves in adolescence, 
in fiction, among the poetically minded. 



THE BREAKDOWN OF MARRIAGE 1 

By Will Durant 

AND so we come to marriage. 

It was Bernard Shaw, presumably, who said that more 
nonsense had been uttered on the subject of marriage than 
on any other topic in the world. It is as simple to be foolish 
about love as in it, and with less excuse. Approaching the 
problem, even the most disembodied intellectual perceives 
that ideas have only a modest (though this is hardly the 
word) influence upon the relations of the sexes; that eco- 
nomic changes override philosophies and morals; and that 
the best that thought can do is to analyze the changes, fore- 
see their development and result, and find some intelligent 
adjustment of behavior that may protect the individual 
and the race. In these affairs it is useless to preach, and 
helpful to understand. 

In the midst of our machines, we have lost sight of the 
fact that the basic reality in life is not politics, nor industry, 
but human relationships the associations of a man with a 
woman, and of parents with a child. About these two foci of 
love mate-love and mother-love all life revolves. Recall 
the story of the rebel lass who, when her lover (killed in the 
Moscow uprising of December, 1917) was buried at the "Red 
Funeral, 5 ' leaped into the grave, flung herself prostrate upon 
the coffin that held him and cried out: "Bury me, too; what 
do I care about the revolution now that he is dead?" She 
may have been deluded in thinking him irreplaceably unique 
we are so similar that broken hearts and broken vows are 
alike unreasonable; but she knew, with a wisdom bom in 

1 From The Mansions of Philosophy. New York: Simon and 
Schuster, Inc., 1929. 

147 



148 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

the blood of woman, that this tremendous revolution was a 
transitory trifle compared with that Missi|sippi of mating, 
parentage, and death which is the central stream of human 
life. She understood, though she might never have found a 
phrase for it, that the family is greater than the state, that 
devotion and despair sink deeper into the heart than economic 
strife, and that in the end our happiness lies not in posses- 
sions, place, or power, but in the gift and return of love. 

What is the meaning of marriage? Perhaps if we can un- 
cover its origin, we shall better realize its significance. 

Picture a starfish, among the lowliest of animals, stretch- 
ing out her rays or arms over her fertilized eggs and her 
hatched young. It is the beginning of one of the central 
phenomena in nature parental care. In the plant and ani- 
mal world generally, the species is preserved not by ma- 
ternal solicitude but by lavish and wasteful procreation. A 
flower must fill the air with pollen and allure some insect 
that will serve as messenger to the mate it will never see. 
The little blood-red Hccmatococcus has been known to turn 
an arctic landscape from snow white into scarlet by its re- 
productive energies in a single night. The oyster, with May- 
flower-like fertility, deposits millions of eggs, and then with 
characteristic nonchalance, leaves them to their fate; a few 
of them develop, but most of them serve as food or are lost 
as just plain waste. 

Slowly nature, as we have seen, disco vered*and developed 
parental care as a substitute for this reckless extravagance. 
From the lowest vertebrae to the highest tribe of men the 
size of the litter, the brood, or the family decreases, and 
parental care increases, with every stage of development in 
the genus, the species, the variety, the race, the nation, the 
class, and the individual. Marriage came not to license love, 
but to improve the quality of life by binding mates in 
permanence to care for the offspring they produce. 

It is not an exclusively human phenomenon. Some species 



THE BREAKDOWN OF MARRIAGE 149 

of birds are more monogamous than man. De Crespigny 
writes of the orang-utangs of Borneo: "They live in families. 
They build commodious nests in the trees; and so far as I 
could observe, the nests are occupied only by the female 
and the young, the male passing the night in the fork of the 
same or a neighboring tree." Westermarck describes the 
gorilla as "living in families, the male parent building the 
nest and protecting the family; and the same is the case 
with the chimpanzee." "It is not unusual, " says Savage, "to 
see the 'old folks' in a gorilla family sitting under a tree 
regaling themselves with fruit and friendly chat, while their 
children are leaping around them and swinging from branch 
to branch in boisterous merriment." 2 

Gradually selection weeds out those species that take little 
care of their offspring, and develops in the survivors that 
instinct of parental care which slowly raises the individual 
and the race. Ape mothers have been known to die of grief 
upon the death of their young. In one species of ape the 
mother carries her babe clasped in one arm uninterruptedly 
for several months. 3 In man the impulse becomes almost the 
ruling passion, stronger even than love; what woman loves 
her husband as she loves her child? Savage mothers nurse 
their children sometimes for twelve years; and among some 
tribes, as in the New Hebrides, it is no rarity that a mother 
should kill herself to take care of her dead child beyond 
the grave. 4 There are few things more marvelous in human 
history than the almost complete (though passing) trans- 
ference of a woman's egotism to her child. 

Along with this powerful impulse of parental care rose a 
central and dominating institution the family. The origin of 
the family lay in the invaluable helplessness of the child, in 
its increasing susceptibility to development and training after 
birth. Evolution in animals is biological chiefly it concerns 

V 

2 Edward Westermarck, History of Human Marriage, p. 14. 

3 William McDougall, Social Psychology, p. 70. 

4 Prince Kropotkm, Mutual Aid, pp. 101, 89. 



I5O SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

the increasing transmission of an accumulating heritage of 
techrtology and culture from generation to generation. The 
family was invented by nature to bind the male in service 
to the female whom nature had bound in service to the child. 
Men are by nature slaves to women, and women are by nature 
slaves to children and the race; in that natural slavery is 
the secret of their deepest and most durable content. 

Let us understand, then, that marriage is not a relation 
between a man and a woman, designed to legalize desire; it 
is a relation between parents and children, designed to pre- 
serve and strengthen the race. If it had been a personal 
instead of a racial matter, it would not have been made the 
first concern of human custom and laws. Why have states 
legislated so carefully and spent so lavishly to regulate the 
love of a man for a maid? Why all this paraphernalia of 
license bureaus, marriage ceremonies, divorce courts, moral 
exhortations and taboos, if not for the reason that marriage is 
the mo$t fundamental of all institutions, the one which guards 
and replenishes the stream of life? It is clear enough, God 
knows, that marriage was never intended for the happiness 
of the mates, but for the mating and rearing of children. 5 
The average tenure of human existence in primitive days 
was so pitifully brief that no one seems to have bothered 
about the individual. Only with the modern lengthening of 
life, the superabundance of humanity (the one commodity 
that violates the law of supply and demand), and the reduc- 
tion of parentage to a phase rather than the sole content of 
marriage, has the individual raised the query whether his 
own happiness in mating is not to be considered along with 
the continuance and elevation of the race. It is in the Age 
of the Individual that the revolt against marriage has risen 
to its present irresistible tide. 

The evolution of marriage has followed the broadening 

5 Cf. Shelley: "A system could not well have been devised more 
studiously hostile to human happiness than marriage." Notes to 
Queen Mab. 



THE BREAKDOWN OF MARRIAGE 15 1 

lines of racial interest. As far back as the eye of history can 
see, the freedom of the individual in choosing a mate was 
strictly limited by social need. The first sexual taboos seem 
to have aimed at preventing the mating of parents and chil- 
dren, then of brothers and sisters; gradually the prohibitions 
spread to "exogamy," which forbade the marriage of a man 
with a woman of his own tribe. Early sociologists like Lewis 
Morgan were inclined to attribute these restrictions to the 
primitive mind's perception of the disadvantages of inbreed- 
ing; later students, like Westermarck and Ellis, rather cyni- 
cally ascribed it to the contempt which comes of familiarity. 
But it will not do to exaggerate the inability of our savage 
forebears to put two and two together and make their own 
systems of sociology; probably they also had the race in 
mind when they limited the individual. 

Marriage evolved as economic relations changed. In the 
nomad stage, the male, a mighty hunter before the Lord f 
took his club and perhaps a friend, stole into another tribe, 
snatched some fair maiden from her tent, and carried her 
away after the manner of the Sabine rape. Then, through the 
growth of wealth and peace, morals improved, and the man 
took not a club, but a valuable present or an offer of long 
service to the father of the woman he desired; marriage by 
purchase replaced marriage by capture. Today the institu- 
tion is a strange mixture of capture and purchase. 

In those early days war was frequent and perils were 
many; death came upon the male with less procrastination 
than upon the female; and polygamy was a crude attempt 
of the surviving men to take care of the women who so out- 
numbered them. As women nursed their children for many 
years, and abstained from marital relations until the child 
was weaned, the male found it convenient to have a variety 
of partners to meet his perennial demands. Besides, polygamy 
produced more children than monogamy; and abundant off- 
spring came as a blessing to a people forever harassed with 
accident, disease, and war. 



152 $EX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

But as war decreased in frequency, and life and health be- 
came more secure, the numerical superiority of women was 
reduced, and monogamy began. It was an advantage to the 
children, who had now a united care, a concentrated love, 
and more food to eat since there were fewer mouths to feed. 
It was an advantage to the man, for it enabled him to center 
his bequests, to found a family instead of scattering his 
wealth, like his seed, among a horde of progeny. He found 
himself still free to satisfy his variegated appetites in secret, 
while he could surround his wife's fidelity with all the guards 
of custom and power, and so secure the transmission of his 
property to children probably his own. Above all, and despite 
this double standard (so rooted in the institution of be- 
quest), monogamy was an advantage to the woman. It solved 
some part of that problem of jealousy which must have made 
polygamy a bedlam; it gave woman at least a biological 
equality with man; and it made it possible for her, from 
that modest leverage, to move and raise the world. 

The rest of the history of marriage has been a struggle 
between woman and property, between wealth and love. One 
might have supposed that as riches grew they would dominate 
unchallenged the choice and rule of mates, and that the 
subordination of woman as a mechanism for producing heirs, 
and an economical substitute for a slave, would become in- 
eradicably established among the customs of the race. But 
it was the other way. Wealth brought education, education 
soothed the savage breast of the male, and after centuries 
of evolution the simple lust of body for body was replaced, 
over widening areas, by romantic love. 

The marriage of convenience remained, and in many coun- 
tries the girl was still mated by her parents to some potential 
millionaire; but in England and America, and here and there 
in every nation, the proprietary marriage yielded, and the 
troubadours triumphed. Slowly woman, who had been made 
gentle by the brutality of the male, softened his brutality 
by her gentleness ; slowly by her tenderness and her maternal 



THE BREAKDOWN OF MARRIAGE 153 

sacrifice she lifted him from his proximity to the brute, and 
taught him to see and to seek in her some qualities less tangi- 
ble and corporeal than those which had lured him to her lair. 
Gradually upon the physical basis of desire civilization built 
the frail and precious superstructure of poetic love. 

We have studied elsewhere the remarkable and picturesque 
development of spiritual love from the roundelays of the 
medieval singers, through the monumental sentiment of 
Clarissa Harlowe and La Nouvelle Helo'ise, to the novels 
that struggled to meet the nineteenth century appetite for 
romance. Who can say how far this ocean of fiction cleansed 
away something of the coarser aspects of modern love, mak- 
ing incipiently real that hunger of soul for soul which had 
been at first, perhaps, the consolatory fancy of aging virgins 
and imaginative males? Certainly romantic love became real: 
youth burst forth at puberty into sonnets and madrigals 
dripping with sincerity; men knelt to women, bowed to kiss 
their hands, and loved them for something more than the 
cozy softness of their flesh. They killed themselves in jousts 
to win a smile ; they created literatures in the ecstasy of their 
devotion; and gradually they brought all their proud wealth 
to lay at the feet of frail creatures who had no power over 
them except through their beauty and their subtlety. When, 
in many hearts, desire became devotion rather than pos- 
session, and a man, wooing a maid with limitless loyalty, 
pledged his faith to her through every trial until death, 
marriage reached the climax of its long development, the 
zenith of its slow ascent from brutality to love. Perhaps we 
shall never know it in all its fullness again. 

For now is the day of the machine, and everything must 
change. Individual security has lessened even as social se- 
curity has grown; physical life is safer than it was, but 
economic life is harassed with a thousand intricacies that 
make every day a peril. Youth, which is braver and more 
conceited than before, is materially helpless and economically 
ignorant beyond anything in the past. Love comes, and 



154 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

youth, finding its pockets empty, dares not marry: love comes 
again, more weakly (years have passed), and yet the pockets 
do not bulge enough for marriage; love comes .once more, 
with half of its early freshness and power (years have 
passed), and now the pockets are full, and marriage cele- 
brates the death of love. 

Tired of waiting so long, the urban girl, as like as not, 
plunges into maturity, a frail, adventurous thing. The ter- 
rific compulsion is on her, she feels, of getting attention, 
entertainment, stockings, and champagne everything except 
a wedding-ring through sexual favors or display. Some- 
times her freedom of behavior is the outcome and reflex of 
her economic freedom; she is no longer dependent on the 
male and may therefore risk the male's decreasing distaste 
for marrying a lady as learned as himself in the arts of love. 
Her very capacity to earn a good income makes the possible 
suitor hesitate; how can his modest wage suffice to keep 
both at their present standard? 

At last she finds a mate who offers her his hand in mar- 
riage. They marry. Not in a church, for they are sophisti- 
cated people; they have no more religion, and the moral 
code which rested so largely on their abandoned faith has 
lost its hold upon their hearts. They marry in the basement 
of some city hall (perfumed with the aroma of politicians), 
to the melody of an alderman's incantations ; they are mak- 
ing not a vow of honor but a business contract, which they 
shall feel free at any time to end. There is no solemnity of 
ritual, no majesty of speech, no glory of music, no depths or 
ecstasy of emotion to burn the words of their promise into 
their memories. They kiss with a laugh, and frolic home. 

Not home. There is no cottage waiting to greet them, 
bowered amid fragrant grass and shady trees, no garden that 
shall grow for them flowers and food made fairer and sweeter 
because they have planted them. They must hide themselves 
timidly as if in prison cells; in narrow rooms which cannot 
hold them long, and which they will not care to improve and 



THE BREAKDOWN OF MARRIAGE 1 55 

ornament into an expression of their personalities. This 
dwelling is no spiritual entity, like the home that has taken 
form and soul under the care of a score of years; rather it 
is a merely material thing, as hard and cold as an asylum. 
It stands amid noise and stone and steel, where spring will 
have no entrance, and will give them not growing things, but 
only rain; where autumn will bring no rainbows in the skies 
nor any colors on the leaves, but only lassitude and somber 
memories. 

The woman is disappointed; she finds nothing here that 
can make these walls bearable night and day; soon she runs 
from them at every chance, and creeps into them only 
towards the dawn. The man is disappointed; he cannot put- 
ter about here, solacing his hammered thumbs with the sense 
of building or rebuilding his own home; slowly it comes to 
him that these rooms are precisely like those in which he 
had brooded as a lonely bachelor, that his relations with his 
wife are prosaically like those which he has had for years 
with women of undiscriminating receptivity. There is noth- 
ing new here, and nothing grows; no infant's voice disturbs 
the night, no merriness of children brightens the day, no 
chubby arms sanction toil with a prattling welcome home. 
For where could the child play? and how could they afford 
another room, and the long years of care and education re- 
quired of children in the city? Discretion, they think, is the 
better part of love ; they resolve to have no children until 
until they are divorced. 

Their marriage being no marriage being a sexual instead 
of a parental association it decays for lack of root and 
sustenance; it dies because it is detached from the life of the 
race. They shrink into themselves, single and separate frag- 
ments; the altruism of love sinks into individualism irritated 
by the compulsion of masquerade. The natural varietism of 
the man reappears; familiarity has bred contempt; through 
her very generosity the woman has nothing new to give. 

Childless, they find a thousand reasons for discord. The 



156 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

word "dear," that had thrilled them in hearing and in ut- 
terance, becomes the cheapest syllable in the language, facile 
and meaningless. The wife mourns the departed tenderness 
of early days; and therefore, in the home, she neglects that 
care of body, dress, action and speech which had drawn the 
man to her as to something brighter and higher than himself. 
If there is any sexual incompatibility between them it be- 
comes an insuperable barrier, because they conceive of mar- 
riage as a purely sexual relation. If they are poor, the man 
regrets the burdens he has assumed, and the woman dotes on 
the Prince of Wales. If they are rich, the pretended com- 
munism of love and marriage conflicts with the individualism 
of greed and fear; quarrels about money begin as soon as 
the delirium of love subsides. If they are modern, they play 
at equality; and a tug of war ensues, till one or the other 
has established an irritating mastery. If the woman works, 
she resents her continued slavery; if she is idle, time hangs 
heavy on her hands until Satan finds something for them to 
do. They thought they could not afford a child; but they 
discover, like Balzac, that "a vice costs less than a family." 
If either has friends, the other is jealous of them; if neither 
has friends, the two are forced back upon themselves, into 
an inescapable intimacy too monotonous to be borne. The 
freedom indispensable to personality disappears before the 
passions of ownership and curiosity; the soul finds no sanc- 
tuary in which it can heal itself with peace and solitude. 
Love, which had always been a combat and a chase, becomes 
a war, in which the night's embrace is but a passing armistice. 
For meanwhile anatomical disillusionment sets in. Man 
and woman alike discover that love's fitful fever burned not 
primarily for their joy, but for the continuance of the race. 
The woman finds herself changed from a goddess into a cook 
unless, perchance, she has found one of those gentle hus- 
bands who change a cook into a goddess. She senses the 
polygamous propensities of the male, and watches him jeal- 
ously because she knows that she cannot trust him far. She 



THE BREAKDOWN OF MARRIAGE 157 

observes that his attentions become less frequent and thought- 
ful, that he makes love, if at all, with absentminded punc- 
tuality. He lacks the imagination to see his wife as a 
stranger sees her, or to see a stranger's wife as she will appear 
at nine o'clock the next morning; in all his thinking (and in 
hers) distance lends enchantment to the view, and the new 
is mistaken for the beautiful. Add childlessness or idleness 
on the part of the woman, and she too begins to hunger for 
some unfamiliar face or scene that they may restore the 
charming flatteries of desire. Neither premeditates adultery; 
they only long for "life." Suddenly the senses conquer sense, 
loyalty slips away, suspicion comes on feline feet, and the 
final fury of detection is welcomed as simplifying a situation' 
too complex for successful pretense and mastery. 

And so they are divorced. See them, first, in the domestic 
relations court ; waiting sadly while other tragedies are aired ; 
exaggerating each other's cruelties, and flinging hot names 
into faces once idealized by desires; reconciled, perhaps, but 
only for awhile; hating each other now as only those can 
hate who remember the promises of love. Soon they are free, 
as the desert is free; they are divorced, and can experiment 
again. But the conditions are as before; how can the end be 
different? 

Year by year marriage comes later, separation earlier ; and 
fidelity finds few so simple as to do it honor. Soon no man 
will go down the hill of life with a woman who has climbed 
it with him, and a divorceless marriage will be as rare as a 
maiden bride. And the divorced are but a fraction of those 
who are unhappy in marriage. Let us not inquire how many 
long to be separated, but dare not ask; how many have 
asked and were denied. Do not look into the hearts of these 
others there is no telling what we might find there: instead 
of separation, fear of shame; instead of love, indifference; 
instead of faithfulness, deceit. Perhaps it were as well that 
they too were torn apart, and that the breakdown of mar- 
riage should stand out naked and startling before our eyes> 



SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

challenging every statesman who thinks in generations, and 
every lover who honors love enough to wish that it might 
not die so young. 

To describe is easy; to prescribe is hard. What can we 
say that has not been said a thousand times before? What 
nostrum can we recommend that has not been tried and found 
wanting? What counsel can we give that will not be an insult 
to the wounds that we would heal? 

Perhaps we should abandon the problem and say, with the 
oldest of the Christian religions: Close every door of escape, 
and the prisoners will forget that they are in jail. If marriage 
is for children and the race, and not for individuals and 
mates, then for the children's sake let marriage be irrevocable, 
and what God has joined together let no man part. There 
is, after all, so little difference between one of us and the 
next, that if we cannot get along with the mate we have, 
we shall soon find like difficulties with another. Man was 
not made for happiness; he is born for suffering; let him 
marry then, and hold his peace. 

But shall we call indissoluble the vows that immature 
youth has made? Shall we shackle two souls for life though 
their love has fallen over into hate? Here is no tempting 
choice; the devil and the deep sea incite us. But now that 
children are fewer, and the career of the parents does not 
end as soon after the birth or maturing of the offspring as 
reckless nature arranged in the lower realms of life, we can 
afford to consider the mates a little more; it would be 
ridiculous to sacrifice a career of three score years and ten 
to considerations that arose when women had children whole- 
sale, and were worn out at forty-five. The very growth of 
the race in quality depends upon reducing the sacrifice which 
it requires of its members; the race is greater than the 
individual only because it may produce greater individuals. 
Beyond that it is a name and an abstraction; and the 
medieval theory of marriage belongs to pre-nominalist days. 

Out of our individualistic age comes an opposite theory, 



THE BREAKDOWN OF MARRIAGE I5Q 

more interesting and as extreme; and how attractively it is 
named! "Free Love." Since vows are made to be broken, 
why make any vows at all? Since marriages are now made 
to be dissolved, why bother a thousand courts with a mil- 
lion matings and separations? If love is the best motive for 
marriage, its death is sufficient reason for divorce; how can 
love be real if it is not free? Let us then release these pompous 
judges who pretend to solder our souls; let lovers wed with 
only their mutual pledge of honesty and honor; and when 
love is gone let them without hindrance seek other mates, 
and recreate their love and their youth. 

This solution of the marriage problem is gathering new 
popularity every year. Judge Lindsey, reporting that mar- 
riage licenses fell 25 per cent from 1921 to 1922, explains 
the decrease as due to the spread of unlicensed menages. 
These free unions would offer an admirable exit from the 
difficulties of our current code were it not for the continued 
economic dependence of woman upon man, and her psycho- 
logical dependence upon him before marriage binds him to 
her whims. Periodic disabilities, and the possibility of preg- 
nancy, reduce the woman's earning power; unless she can 
secure a home and some fairly permanent protection in re- 
turn for the risks she runs, the advantage of "freedom" is 
all on the side of the male. At present though this feeling 
too is in flux, and tends to grow weaker day by day a 
woman is lowered in the eyes of a man by her surrender; 
the male is a fighter, or likes to conceive himself so, and 
relishes at least a pretense of resistance to dignify his victory ; 
when he has quite won he seeks new fields of glory. At pres- 
ent, but again subject to change without notice, the male 
likes to think that the woman whom he chooses as his perma- 
nent mate has never belonged to any other man; he will 
readily agree to a temporary union with an experienced 
woman, but he seldom desires her for his legal wife. It is as if 
he accepted Weininger's brutal statement, that every woman 
is by temperament either a mother or a rake; and as if he 



l6o SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

suspected that a woman who has loved her neighbors as her- 
self will revert to that promiscuity as soon as the novelty of 
marriage, or the burden of motherhood, disappears. The male 
never dreams of applying the same scrutiny or judgment to 
himself; he assumes his ability to pass from variety to 
monotony without any likelihood of deviation from uxorious 
fidelity. What actuates him is not reason, but the proprietary 
sense; his feelings go back to the ancient and almost uni- 
versal custom of marriage by purchase; he is buying some- 
thing on the market, and does not want to pay a good price 
for second-hand material. He thinks of woman as the author 
of the tenth commandment thought of her. 

All that will change; and perhaps when woman's economic 
independence is complete, and contraceptives have quite dif- 
ferentiated mating from parentage, men will apply to women 
the same lenient standard by which they judge themselves, 
and our ancient moral code will come definitely to an end. 
But during the long transition woman will suffer through the 
reckless egoism and irresponsibility of man. Free love is love 
free for the male; it is a trap into which emancipated 
woman falls with a very emancipated man. Some day woman 
may be master of her own life, and motherhood may not 
leave her at the mercy of a naturally promiscuous male ; some 
day, far distant, we may find a way of caring for children 
without binding the man to the woman who has borne them 
by him. Then free love will be a boon to all, and the ideal 
state of a finally liberated race. Till then we had better obey 
the law. 

Confused with free love in the popular mind is com- 
panionate marriage. Hysteria conceives this in various shock- 
ing ways ; but when we discover that its doughty protagonist 
defines it as "legal marriage with legalized birth control, and 
with the right to divorce by mutual consent for childless 
couples, usually without payment of alimony," it does not 
seem so very terrible; there is nothing in it (except for that 
bitter line about alimony) which does not already exist in the 



THE BREAKDOWN OF MARRIAGE l6l 

practice of presumably respectable families; and divorce by 
mutual consent, where there are no children, is preferable to 
divorce by collusion or "desertion." What people fear in the 
plan is the thoroughness with which it establishes the equal- 
ity of the sexes. Very rapidly the luxurious ladies of the 
bourgeoisie are bringing down upon all their sex the revenge 
of the tired male; marriage is changing to a form that will 
not tolerate the unproductive women who are the ornament 
and horror of so many expensive homes; the men are inviting 
their modern wives to earn for themselves the money which 
they are to spend. For companionate marriage provides that 
until maternity is in the offing, the wife shall go to work. 
Here hides the joker by which the liberation of woman shall 
be made complete: she shall be privileged henceforth to pay 
her fare from A to Z. The industrial revolution is to be car- 
ried out to its logical and merciless conclusion; woman is to 
join her husband in the factory; instead of remaining idle 
in her bower, compelling the man to produce doubly as a 
balance to her economic sterility, she shall become his hon- 
ored equal in toil as in reward, in obligations as in rights. 
Such is emancipation. 

Much credit is due the man who has dared all the devils of 
orthodoxy to propose a specific cure for the sickness of mod- 
ern marriage. But there is something hard and ruthless in 
the plan which a lingering gallantry will consider unfair so 
long as woman's economic and moral equality with man is 
incomplete. For man, as we have said, is secretly and 
ravenously polygamous. Give him a form of marriage in 
which he shall be free to leave his mate as soon as she has 
lost for him the lure of novelty and the pleasure of re- 
sistance, and he will itch for alien charms and uncaptured 
citadels; and sooner or later he will say adieu. It does not 
help to answer that the consent of both parties would be 
required for divorce; the modern woman will grant consent 
when it is asked. And then? Then she will find herself "free 
and independent" again, flung back upon the thorns and 



1 62 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

spikes of industry, immeasurably more depreciated than the 
male. 

These are minor difficulties, and presumably the plan is 
offered as subject to amendment by experience. What is most 
constructive in it is the encouragement which It offers to 
early marriage. For here, after all, is the heart of our moral 
problem: if we could find a way to restore marriage to its 
natural age we should at one stroke reduce by half the prosti- 
tution, the venereal disease, the fruitless celibacy, the morbid 
chastity, and the experimental perversions that stigmatize 
our contemporary life. 

Consider again how few are the men or the women who 
marry the one whom they love best. The bright passion of 
youth comes too soon for our finances; we shrink from the 
great adventure, and let love die away. And yet the earlier 
the love, the fresher and deeper it must be; no man can 
love after thirty with the ardor and self-abandonment of 
youth. 6 The devotion which first love evokes in the soul is too 
profound to be worn away with a year of intimacy and trial ; 
this new tenderness of the boy, this clear-eyed trust of the 
girl, must carry them on happily through years whose 
memories will be like a fragrance in their lives. 

Picture a marriage of first love. See the newly weds, in 
ideal, choosing not a cell in a box, but a separate little home 
where nature has not yet been utterly dispossessed; fur- 
nishing it to the tune of a hundred meiry debates as to what 
should be bought and where it should stand; planting flowers 
and growing with their growth; filling the home with color 
and music and books and friends; making it more lovable 
than the glare and blare of the street; and completing it 
at last with the turbulence and jollity of a child. Many times 
we have revenged ourselves with wit upon the hard restraints 
of marriage; and yet, in our secret hearts we shall always 

6 This is the harmless remark which, abbreviated in caption, by a 
hurried editor, was broadcast throughout the country as "No man 
can love after thirty." Publicity makes us and breaks us. 



THE BREAKDOWN OF MARRIAGE 163 

look back with longing to those sentimental days when love 
was young. 7 

There are many objections to early marriage. First it is 
useless to offer counsels of perfection; we cannot conquer 
the economic caution of youth with moral exhortations and 
real-estate poetry. But it is the parents, not the children, that 
advise, and financially enforce, delayed marriage; there is 
nothing further to be asked of the recklessness of youth. Let 
us persuade the mistaken parents that by compelling the 
deferment of marriage they are inviting an endless chain of 
coarsening substitutes and demoralizing perversions; that 
wisdom would lie not in making impediments to the mar- 
riage of true minds, but in providing for sons, as well as 
daughters, a substantial dowry that would balance their 
economic immaturity and strengthen their courage to face 
the world. It would be a debt of honor, which the children 
would repay to the next generation; no one would lose, 
everyone would gain. There was a time when fathers were 
generous enough for that. 

With such assistance even a cautious lad might surrender 
to the call of love. And any lad, marrying, will find a grain 
of truth in the old proverb, "God will take care of you"; pride 
will stiffen his vertebrae, add power to his arm, and per- 
sistence to his courage; the compulsion of responsibility will 
deepen him; marriage will make him a man. If nothing else 
will serve, let the little goddess go forth to her daily labors 
as before, until she envisages motherhood. It is better that 
she should have something for her hands to do than pose 
as a bit of fragile ornament; and better that they should 
delay parentage, than fret in the irritability of mating un- 
naturally postponed : we must permit the separation of mar- 
riage from reproduction in order to diminish the separation 
of sex from marriage. Should the man relax under this aid, 

7 For a strong endorsement of early marriage from the biological 
standpoint, cf. S. J. Holmes, Studies in Evolution and Genetics, pp. 
177-8- 



1 64 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

the only remedy for him is fatherhood; the child will stir 
him on to manhood, or there is no man in him at all. 

The second difficulty adduces the ignorance of youth. "At 
a time when a man is in love," said Nietzsche, "he should not 
be allowed to come to a decision about his life and to de- 
termine once for all the character of his society on account of 
a whim. We ought publicly to declare invalid the vows of 
lovers, and to refuse them permission to marry." 8 It is true 
that youth is blind, and cannot judge; but age is old, and 
cannot love. Perhaps at no time should we be permitted or 
required to make irrevocable decisions. It is not shown that 
men choose more wisely at thirty than at twenty in the mat- 
ter of taking wives; and as all wives and all husbands are 
substantially alike, it does not make all the difference in 
the world. If a man cannot find some mode of concord with 
his wife it is, in a great majority of cases, because of some 
defect in his own behavior and philosophy, which would 
operate to the same result if he could exchange his neigh- 
bor's wife for his own. Divorce is like travel: it is useless if 
we cannot change ourselves. 

Nevertheless the ignorance of youth is real; indeed, when, 
In these matters, do we cease to be ignorant? Which of us 
Jnen yet understands women, and how many of us can man- 
age them? To reduce the area of the unknown let us restore 
the old custom of requiring a public betrothal six months 
before marriage. During that pleasant half year the lovers 
would discover each other mentally ; perhaps they would even 
begin to quarrel like man and wife; and there would be an 
opportunity for separation before the bonds of matrimony 
had made them one. Those six months would add to our 
marriage institutions a moral fiber and beauty which they 
sadly need; they would provide a lyric interlude amid the 
prose of economic life. 

The last and greatest difficulty is the absurdity of encour- 
aging youth, before experience has sobered sense, to enter a 

8 Dawn of Day, sect. 151. 



THE BREAKDOWN OF MARRIAGE 165 

house which at any moment may become a prison, incarcerat- 
ing one for life. Tf early marriage is to be a reasonable ar- 
rangement, matrimony must have an exit as well as an en- 
trance, and divorce must be obtainable by mutual consent. 
It may appear ridiculous, having argued that divorce is a 
regrettable thing, and that marriage exists for the care of 
children rather than for the happiness of mates, to urge the 
extension of divorce at the apparent cost of the family and 
the child. But who knows that the acceptance of mutual 
consent as a sufficient reason would multiply divorce? Or 
that the compulsory association of distrustful and alienated 
mates is any better for their children than the allotment or 
alteration of the children between two households separate 
and at peace? If we refuse divorce to a man and a woman 
merely because they unite in asking for it, we invite them to 
some form of collusion which will satisfy our irrational de- 
majids. Doubtless some delay is salutary; it would serve 
wisdom and order to require a trial separation for some con- 
siderable time before granting a definite decree; for in that 
interval the constant warriors might discover that solitude 
is worse than strife, and distance might reveal virtues which 
nearness had concealed. 

In a Middle Western city recently a congressman and his 
wife joined in asking for a divorce; it was refused them on 
the ground that they had not violated a sufficient number of 
divine commandments and human laws. The fact that they 
agreed in desiring liberty was considered irrelevant, and they 
were "handcuffed for life/ 7 Such conditions are a provocation 
to adultery; there is nothing for a gentleman to do, under 
these circumstances, except to supply the law with its pound 
of flesh. For many years now Japan has given divorce for 
mutual consent, and yet its divorce rate is lower than our 
own. Russia has had such a law since the respectable days 
of 1907. Rome had it. Bonaparte put it into the Napoleonic 
Code; but the Bourbons, having learned nothing, struck it 
out. It is highly probable that an amendment of this kind 



1 66 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

would add little if at all to the number of separations; it 
would merely add to the honorableness of our conduct and 
the decency of our courts. 

What the conclusion of our experiments will be let others 
tell who know. Probably it will be nothing that we shall 
wish or will ; we are caught in a current of change, and shall 
doubtless be borne along to fated and unchosen ends. In 
this rushing flux of customs, habits, and institutions, any- 
thing at all may come. Now that the home, in our large cities, 
is disappearing, monogamy has lost its chief attraction. 
Without doubt, companionate marriage will be more and 
more condoned where there is no intent to reproduce. Free 
unions, sanctioned or not, will multiply; and though their 
freedom will be chiefly for the male, women will take them 
as a lesser evil than the sterile loneliness of uncourted days. 
The "double standard" will be broken down, and woman, 
having imitated man in all things else, will emulate his pre- 
marital experience. Divorce will grow, and every city will 
be crowded with the derelicts of shipwrecked unions. The 
entire institution of marriage will be recast into newer and 
looser forms. When the industrialization of woman is com- 
plete, and birth control is the secret of every class, mother- 
hood will be an incident in woman's life, and state institu- 
tions for the care of children will replace the home. Panta ret. 

The last word, however, must be for monogamy. The life- 
long union remains the loftiest conception of human mar- 
riage ; and it is still the goal which the complete lover will set 
himself when he pledges his troth. There is something cow- 
ardly in divorce, like flight from the field of war; and some- 
thing unstable and superficial in one who flits from mate to 
mate. Men and women of character will solve these diffi- 
culties as they arise, knowing that difficulties as great would 
meet them on any other battleground. Their reward comes 
when the hard years of mutual readjustment are over, and 
a steady affection tenoned and mortised in the care of chil- 
dren and the sharing of a thousand vicissitudes has sup- 



THE BREAKDOWN OF MARRIAGE 167 

planted the transitory ardor of physical desire, and made 
two minds and two hearts one. Only when that test of the 
soul has been passed will they know the fullness of love. 

That fullness cannot come without children. It is, again, 
for children that marriage was invented; it was designed not 
to unite mate with mate so much as to perpetuate the species 
by uniting parents with children in loyalty and care. Eman- 
cipate as we will, free ourselves as much as we can from the 
prejudices of our past, the voluntarily childless woman still 
fills us with a sense of something abnormal and disagreeable. 
Objective beauty, like subjective happiness, lies in the easy 
fulfillment of natural purposes and functions, so that those 
women who remain to the end without children seem a little 
ridiculous, and never quite convince us that they know con- 
tent. If a woman has found another function than motherhood 
to absorb her energy and fill her life, it is passing well, and 
nature will bear with her; but if she wanders about aimless 
and dissatisfied, moving from one place, one man, or one 
amusement to another, and finding no interest anywhere, it 
is because she has turned her back on the natural purpose of 
love. A woman, as Nietzsche said, is a riddle, whose solu- 
tion is a child. 

The modern girl will laugh at this old-fashioned suggestion, 
and will remind the world that the day is gone when she can 
be used as a maternity machine. So we refute one another's 
extremes, and life moves roughshod over our arguments. No 
one with a sense of history, or a perception of irreversible 
economic developments, could think of asking a woman for 
the large family which was her lot on the farm; everyone 
understands (except the rural assemblymen who still rule 
our state legislatures) that the multiplication of machines and 
the reduction of the death rate have put an end to the need 
for the mass-production of children. If community good seems 
to require a large population it is because we delude our* 
selves by thinking in terms of quantity, or aspire to imperial 
and militaristic expansion, or vision a fertile China over- 



1 68 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

flowing upon the West. But quantity never won a battle; it 
is brains and tools that win. And by the time the Chinese 
equal us in tools they will also have taken over from us 
those methods of controlling population which are the mod- 
ern substitute for infanticide and abortion. There is no com- 
munal need, no moral claim, for large families any more; and 
if one suggests that women should still retain, in moderate 
measure, the function of motherhood, it is rather with a view 
to their own self-fulfillment and happiness than for the sake 
of the group. 

It is remarkable how marriage withers when children stay 
away, and how it blossoms when they come. Before, mar- 
riage was a business contract for the mutual provision of 
physiological conveniences ; now it recovers its natural mean- 
ing, it lifts little egos into a larger whole, and the union 
sprouts and flowers like a watered plant. The woman finds, 
in the midst of turmoil, trouble, worry and pain, a strange 
content that is like a quiet ecstasy; never in her idleness 
and luxury was she as happy as in these tasks and obliga- 
tions that develop and complete her even while seeming to 
sacrifice her to the race. And the man, looking at her, falls 
in love with her anew; this is another woman than before, 
with new resources and abilities, with a patience and tender- 
ness never felt in the violence of love; and though her face 
may be pale now, and her form for a time disfigured for 
corrupt and abnormal eyes, to him it seems as if she had 
come back out of the jaws of death with a gift absurdly 
precious; a gift for which he can never sufficiently repay 
her. Work that was bitter toil becomes now as natural and 
cheerful as the honey-seeking of the bee ; and the house, that 
was but walls and a bed, becomes a home, filled with the 
laughter of rejuvenated life. For the first time in his career 
the man feels himself complete. 

For through parentage (unless he is a genius, whose pas- 
sion and completeness lie in intellectual maternity) he does 
not merely fulfill his function as a member of society, and 



THE BREAKDOWN OF MARRIAGE 169 

as an individual in a species; he fulfills himself he accepts 
the responsibilities that mature and widen him, he enjoys the 
satisfaction of an unsuspectedly profound instinct of parental 
love, he lays up the comradeship of children as a solace for 
his age, and in some measure eludes the searching scythe of 
Death. That ruthless scavenger takes of us only the decay- 
ing flesh and bones; he must clear them away to make room 
for youth; but in the youth which he protects is our own 
blood, our own life, and our own souls. We but surrender a 
part of ourselves to the grave that another part, generated 
from our substance, fed by our hands, and reared with our 
care, may survive as our reincarnation in the flow of life. 
Our children will bring us daily tribulation, and bitter pain, 
and perhaps in the end heartbreaking disillusionment; but 
they will bring us, just as surely, a fathomless delight that 
will surpass even the ecstasies of love. Let a man be com- 
plete. Not as a fragment, not as a ruthlessly competitive and 
narrowly separate individual, can he fulfill himself and be 
made whole ; but as a sharer in a larger self, as a lover giving 
more than he receives, as a father gladly caught in the toils 
of the species, willingly consumed in the continuity and im- 
mortality of life. For in that cooperation of the part with 
the whole he shall find the essence of all morals, the secret 
of all living things, and a quiet lane of happiness for many 
years. 



LEGISLATING FOR THE COMPANIONATE 
MARRIAGE * 

By Ben B. Lindsey and Wainwright Evans 

I HAVE been asked many times what specific measures I 
would take if it were in my power, by passing a law or a 
group of laws, to establish companionate marriage in the 
state of Colorado. 

My answer is that there is no need for a bill to establish 
companionate marriage as a separate thing, either in Colo- 
rado or in any other state, because we already have the com- 
panionate as one of the privileges of present-day marriage 
a privilege which merely needs to be recognized and made 
legal. The fact that contraception and divorce by mutual 
consent (collusion) are illegal does not particularly matter 
so long as people have the good sense to practice them any- 
way. But having them illegal does undoubtedly make need- 
less difficulties and tragedies in marriage which could readily 
be avoided if these two remedies were within the easy reach 
of all persons. The present prohibitions on birth control im- 
pose ignorance or half -knowledge on thousands; and thus 
they have the evil effect of leading to the practice of much 
contraception that is unscientific, ineffective, risky, and often 
dangerous; and when such contraception fails, then abortion 
follows, not occasionally but in literally millions of cases. 

Society must find relief from the population problem. The 
pressure is terrific. And if it cannot find it in humane ways, 
then it will find it in inhumane ways, and by the murder of 
unborn children if necessary. I know many very excellent 
persons who have been driven by their fears to this mur- 

1 From The Companionate Marriage. New York: Horace Liveright, 

1927. 

170 



LEGISLATING FOR THE COMPANIONATE MARRIAGE 17 t 

derous extreme. The poor, the ignorant, the economically 
inefficient in a word, the very persons who most need to 
know how to practice birth control, are the very ones who 
find it most difficult to obtain effective scientific knowledge 
of the subject. Thus they are tricked, as it were, by society 
into furnishing its unwanted progeny, while the more intel- 
ligent regulate their families by their individual preferences 
and economic necessities. 

There is no need, I repeat, for any separate law that would 
change the present status of marriage or alter its funda- 
mentals. It would not even be necessary to change the method 
of getting married. Companionate marriage is present mar- 
riage. What is needed is a law to legalize the already existing 
privileges and practices of marriage, and place them and their 
social benefits within the reach of all even of the poor and 
the ignorant, who most need them. 

Here is a brief outline of the three essential legislative 
enactments or bills I have in mind: 

i. A bill for an act to repeal the present stupid laws 
against birth control, and to legalize and regulate the right 
of birth control clinics to carry on and give advice to mar- 
ried women, who might make us of the information or not, 
as they chose; leaving it to their personal judgment as to 
whether they should remain childless or not, and if so, how 
long. 

This would not be the grudging permission which at present 
allows a physician or the Birth Control League to impart 
birth control knowledge to a woman when it would endanger 
her health, psychologically or physically, to have a child. 
Such information, imparted under such conditions, is a mere 
subterfuge which enables the physician to remain safe from 
prosecution on the charge of breaking the laws against the 
imparting of contraceptive information. It is an absolutely 
necessary and justifiable dodge for avoiding persecution by 
busybodies who are not content to abstain from the use of 



I?2 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

birth control themselves, and who insist on foisting their per- 
sonal opinions on everybody else. 

Let me say again in this connection that I haven 't the 
slightest objection to Roman Catholics and others abstaining 
from birth control themselves, if they think it sinful. What I 
cannot understand is their fixed determination to force this 
fanaticism on the American nation. This government is not 
a theocracy. They have no right to try to read their theology 
into laws intended to govern people who do not subscribe to 
that theology, and who cannot legally under the Constitu- 
tion be forced to do so. These opinions regarding the sup- 
posedly evil results of birth control are opinions, nothing 
more; and they are minority opinions at that. This country 
has too long been ruled by organized and fanatical minori- 
ties; and it is time to call a halt. It is not so much a question 
of my being for or against the use of birth control as it is 
the right of people to their freedom of choice as to whether 
they will or will not use it. 

2. A second bill to amend the laws relating to divorce. 
This bill would add a clause providing that "where couples 
are childless, and where the efforts of the magistrate to bring 
about a reconcilement have failed, and where the couple 
mutually desire a divorce, the divorce shall be granted with- 
out further expense or needless delay." This would require 
no lawyer, any more than getting married requires a lawyer. 
A judge can marry people, and by this law he could, under 
the prescribed conditions, unmarry them. 

3. A third bill to regulate the property status of the di- 
vorce. It would deal with the right of the wife to support and 
alimony. It would withhold or grant such support and ali- 
mony according to the conditions of the case. For instance, 
if a woman were in good health, and able to work, and to 
support herself, there would ordinarily be no alimony. Such 
a bill might provide that the property rights of childless 
couples should, at the discretion of the court, ordinarily be 
the same as the property rights of single persons. 



LEGISLATING FOR THE COMPANIONATE MARRIAGE 173 

In this connection let me emphasize what I have already 
pointed out, that one very common condition in companionate 
marriage would be that both the husband and wife would go 
on earning a livelihood, exactly as before marriage. Nat- 
urally, however, this would not always be the case. It would 
depend on the inclination and desire ot the couple, on the 
temperament and capabilities of the woman, etc. Some women 
find their most effective place in life in making a really happy 
and lovely home for the man they love. Such a home increases 
the man's economic efficiency and his value to society. The 
arrangements in marriage must depend on the situation and 
on the people ; and so must the question of property and ali- 
mony. Equity and common sense would have to be the de- 
termining factor so far as the court decision was concerned, 
Rigid applications of rigid laws could have no place in such 
a system and "legal minded" judges ought to keep out of, 
or be kept out of, such work. They would merely throw a 
monkey-wrench into the machine. 

The passing of three such bills, as roughly sketched here, 
would establish the companionate, as we now illegally have it, 
on a legal basis. It would mark it off sharply from the pro- 
creative marriage, and it would justify us in calling childless 
marriage "The Companionate" and procreative marriage 
"The Family." This nomenclature has long been used by 
sociologists to distinguish the two "The Companionate" and 
"The Family. 9 ' I suggest these terms for general use. 

Since the passage of these bills would in no way change 
the fundamental status and practice of marriage as we have 
it, and would merely make the institution flexible and better 
adapted to the needs of society, the only objections that 
could be made to these bills would be the already operative 
objections on the part of a minority of our population, to 
birth control and divorce by mutual consent. If this minority 
continued not to believe in these two things, they have the 
inalienable right not to practice them. If it would make 



174 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

them feel any better, we could pass a law giving them that 
liberty. 

I propose that these three laws would be immediately 
practicable, if not in Colorado, then surely in some other 
state or states. The legislature of Nevada, for example, has 
recently passed a law reducing the time necessary for estab- 
lishing residence in Nevada to three months. Why three 
months? It's a mere camouflage, in line with other hypocri- 
sies of our marriage code. Why not call it a day? And why 
not at the same time establish the companionate in Nevada 
by passing three such bills as I am here suggesting? It would 
be a social experiment of the utmost importance; and it 
should be undertaken at once by at least three progressive 
states, one in the Far West, one in the Middle West and one 
in the East so that the companionate would be within easy 
reach of all who want it. 

I have a letter from a Chicago attorney who suggests that 
a practicable way to legislate for companionate marriage 
would be to alter certain already existing laws. I quote: 

"The childless marriage, such by prenuptial agreement, 
is here. The dissolution of this by mutual consent is here 
for all who are willing to 'frame' the evidence. The evidence 
is rarely 'framed' until all property questions are settled by 
agreement. The 'framing' ordinarily gets the divorce and 
eliminates the alimony. 

"If the law makes this divorce more respectable by making 
it more honest, and puts the truth-teller upon at least an 
equal footing with the perjurer, is not this about all it can do 
for this situation? 

"And is not this done by two relatively simple statutory 
changes, i.e.: (i) Make the divorce easier by shortening the 
'abandonment' where there are no children, say, first to one 
year and, as public opinion permits, to, say, six months; 
and (2) abolish alimony where the wife has never borne 
children, or perhaps leave alimony to the discretion of the 
court, where marriage has lasted, say, three or five years?" 



LEGISLATING FOR THE COMPANION ATE MARRIAGE 175 

To these very interesting suggestions my correspondent 
adds, "Must not social usage evolve any further betterment 
of present conditions? And can it not be trusted to do so?" 
To which I answer Yes to both questions. It would seem 
evident, however, that such changes can be hastened if their 
desirability can be pointed out to the public. That is one of 
my objects in the writing of this book. 

No provision is made in the above suggestions for legalized 
scientific birth control. This would be an unfortunate omis- 
sion, so far as the companionate is concerned, because the 
methods of contraception in present general use are often 
ineffective, dangerous to health, and psychologically unsatis- 
factory. Bootleg birth control would never meet the require- 
ments of companionate marriage. 

I understand that a bill for the establishment of com- 
panionate marriage was recently proposed in the California 
legislature. A bill for the establishing of the companionate 
on a separate basis from other marriage would be likely to 
fail in any legislature ; but three such bills as I have outlined, 
for the modification of marriage as we have it, might, I think, 
readily appeal to the common sense of any progressive and 
courageous legislature. It has been my hope that the legis- 
lature of Colorado might lead the way in this, as it did long 
ago in the establishing of the Juvenile and Family Court of 
Denver a pioneer step; but as the political issue is rather 
acute where I am concerned, I fear such a result would be 
impossible for the present. At this writing the Colorado legis- 
lature, many members of which were largely chosen and 
elected by the Ku Klux Klan, has before it a bill, sponsored 
by the Klan and by certain of the Roman Catholic clergy, 
for the abolition of the Juvenile Court ; and it is now a ques- 
tion, not of whether this legislature would adopt the com- 
panionate, but of whether its Klan influences will so much as 
permit my official work in Colorado to continue on any 
basis. It is possible that by the time these words are in print, 
I shall be cut adrift by these forces from the work I founded. 



176 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

And so, as I say, I hope the proposed measures will appeal 
to the common sense of other legislatures. 

Once such laws were passed, that would by no means be 
the end of the changes to be made. The companionate, once 
established on such a foundation, would grow and perfect 
itself as an institution along the lines I have indicated in 
earlier chapters of this book. For example, there should, in 
time, be a law requiring medical examination for all persons 
who marry, whether for the companionate or the family. 
There are persons who, by reason of infectious disease, should 
not be permitted even the companionate relationship till fully 
cured much less procreative marriage, into which they can 
now enter without let or hindrance. There are still others 
who might properly enter the companionate, but who should 
never undertake to bring children into the world. 

Under such a system of medical examination, I think it 
might some day become perfectly practicable for society to 
expect people to confine themselves to the companionate 
unless pronounced by a magistrate to be both hygientcally 
and economically fit to undertake the family. / do not say 
that there should necessarily be a coercive law to this effect. 
I think the fewer laws we have the better. But I do believe 
public opinion would establish at least an unwritten custom 
of decency and right living in this matter which would be 
effective in most cases. A coercive law would be objectionable 
if only because people it restrained would probably want to 
violate it; whereas the restraints of decency and good taste 
and fair play and the desire to see children get a fair chance 
in life, would operate sufficiently well. I think there are very 
few persons who would want to bring into the world children 
they clearly should not have. What they must have, and do 
insist on having, is a normal sex life. Parenthood is not a 
necessary part of that. And if the parent urge be strong, there 
are always children to be obtained by adoption. 

In this connection let me say that I have found by long 
experience that most people want children. There is a com- 



LEGISLATING FOR THE COMPANIONATE MARRIAGE 177 

mon impression among people who are alarmed by the birth 
control idea that if everybody understood the technique of 
contraception, nobody would have children, and the race 
would die out. These people don't know human nature. It 
simply does not work out that way. And obviously, persons 
who don't want children are the very ones who ought not to 
have them. I should think the absurdity of forcing the human 
race to propagate by law would be so evident that even the 
solemn moralists would see that it is nonsense. If the human 
race has to be kept going by means of obscenity laws it had 
better die. 

I have a courteous letter from a minister in a southern city 
who tells me that he sees two objections to my views on the 
companionate. His first objection is that many people would 
marry with the intention and thought of quitting if the rela- 
tionship does not suit them, and without making any real, 
unselfish effort to work out their problem, since there would 
be no pressure from without to compel them to do this. His 
second objection is that couples would "contract marriage 
for pleasure, and with no recognition of the divine purpose of 
bearing children." He adds, "It is one thing to believe in a 
home with a limited number of children, and quite another 
to believe so much in self-indulgence and ease that children 
are not wanted at all. I have never been able to see very 
worthy motives in marriage that coldly determines that there 
shall be no children. " 

I was very grateful for that letter. It was written in a fair 
and kindly spirit, which is by no means always the case with 
the letters I receive from orthodox Christian sources; and 
at the same time it states clearly two points which I have 
perhaps not yet met specifically enough. 

Let me take the last objection first. From my long ex- 
perience with all kinds of people I can positively assure this 
critic that the assumption that most persons would not have 
children if they didn't have to is an error. There are a few 
of whom this is true, but only a few. And obviously it is better 



IJ& SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

that such persons should find their happiness and their use- 
fulness without reproach in some field other than parenthood. 

I find a tendency, regrettably frequent among the clergy, 
to assume not merely that people shirk parenthood if they 
can, but also that they must be induced to have children, 
either by legally imposed ignorance or by religious persuasion 
on grounds of "duty." People who have children ought to 
want them. If they don't want them they are not likely to 
make a success of parenthood. But an overwhelming majority 
of people certainly do want children and love children ; and 
this desire on their part is not a "recognition of the divine 
purpose of bearing children," either. It is natural. They love 
children and want them about. That is far better and more 
generous than "duty." This assumption that people never 
want to do what is right, and that right acting is accom- 
plished from a stern sense of "duty," and is made possible 
only by divine Grace, has some very unfortunate effects on 
our national habits of thought. The doctrine of total de- 
pravity has done enough harm in the world, and it is time 
to throw it overboard. 

Now for the first objection, that people would enter the 
companionate with the intention of quitting if they didn't like 
it. Well, why shouldn't they? Why assume that that means 
that they have no intention or expectation of liking it, and 
that they will put forth no effort to make a go of the mar- 
riage? Of course if such an objection applies at all it applies 
to any marriage. 

But anybody who knows anything about human nature 
and human relationships and human ties knows that most 
normal people don't behave that way. A tie grows up in the 
physical and spiritual associations of marriage that quickly 
acquires a tremendous power to hold the husband and wife 
together. It binds them with hoops of steel it is an emo- 
tional bond, and it is a bond of habit. It develops in every 
marriage that is based on sympathy, love, and similarity of 
tastes. Sometimes, so great is its power, it even develops in 



LEGISLATING FOR THE COMPANIONATE MARRIAGE I7<) 

marriages where these fundamentals of congeniality are lack- 
ing. I know many uncongenial couples who are held together 
by this bond. They may fight, but still they have a certain 
affection for each other. 

The important thing here to understand is that a couple 
entering marriage may be mistaken in their belief that they 
have a basis for lifelong union, and that in the companionate 
such persons would not have to bet so heavily on that belief. 
Thus they could take the chance more readily. And why 
shouldn't they? If they marry frankly facing the fact that 
they may be mistaken, why shouldn't they be that honest? 
Is being honest with themselves and with each other so dan- 
gerous? Must we eternally refuse to face the facts and possi- 
bilities of life? There is obviously the danger of making a 
mistaken choice in any marriage. Why should people not 
frankly admit this and provide against the danger by ar- 
ranging a way to retrace their steps if need be? What is 
immoral or irresponsible about that? No more so than the 
immorality and irresponsibility found in present marriage, 
surely! 

Persons who think honestly about these matters are far 
more likely to make a success of marriage than those who are 
not honest, who take refuge in orthodox hypocrisy, who have 
unwanted children from "duty," or from ignorance, or acci- 
dent, and who stand ready to ruin each other's lives because, 
as this correspondent puts it, " Jesus insisted on the perma- 
nency of marriage." 

What if he did? Are we thereby forbidden to hold our 
own opinions on these matters? I object to an infallible Book 
as much as I do to an infallible Pope. As a matter of fact I 
don't believe Jesus ever taught anything of the sort about 
marriage. His followers often stupidly misunderstood him, as 
the record confesses. They were always reading their own 
traditional views into his teachings, to his great annoyance. 
Why may they not have done it in this case? 

What I vividly feel about Jesus is this: He consistently 



ISO SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

struck at every ancient law which he found did not accord 
with human need. He offended the orthodox religionists of 
his day, and he would offend them today if he were here 
to comment on present-day conditions. 

He used common sense about the Sabbath, and they didn't 
like that; and he ridiculed their fault-finding by pointing out 
that they had never seen anything wrong in the fact that 
David and his followers ate shew bread from the altar when 
they were hungry; and that if a man's ox fell into a pit on 
the Sabbath Day he would not refrain from pulling the 
animal out on that day not, it is implied, unless he were 
a manifest idiot, so gone in theological formalism that he 
lacked sanity. It is my belief that Jesus would unhesitatingly 
attack our present system of marriage if he were here. He 
would see what every minister in the land is announcing 
with alarm from the pulpit that too much of its fruit is evil. 
Jesus had no reverence for tradition and authority, save as 
these proved their practical value to society. We should do 
well to follow his great example in this, rather than to be 
aping and quoting him like parrots, as if we couldn't think 
and act for ourselves. 

This constant reference to authority by religionists is the 
thing that more than any other weakens and discredits the 
church today, and puts it out of tune with reality, and de- 
prives it of much of its power to do good. 

Jesus expressly rejected this reference back to authority, 
and insisted on the compulsions of present reality. "Ye have 
heard how it was said by them of old time . . . but I say unto 
you ..." Could one ask for a sharper contrast than is af- 
forded in that "but"? He came to fulfill the law, he said. 
True he came to show that growth is the law ; and to fulfill 
it as such; and to lay upon the human race the exhortation 
to grow. 

Like every preeminent teacher, Jesus was concerned, not 
that his pupils should memorize his words or make magic 
formulas of them, but rather that they should learn to think. 



LEGISLATING FOR THE COMPANIONATE MARRIAGE l8l 

The plain implication of his teaching is that it is right for 
people to think honestly and independently for themselves. 
If the Christian Church would fearlessly apply that principle 
of independent and honest thought it would be a very dif- 
ferent church ; and it would have a message for the world the 
like of which it has not uttered in the two thousand years 
of its existence. A clergy like that would be a clergy really 
following the example of the Master. Jesus would be thfe first 
to condemn any slavish acceptance of the letter of the views 
he uttered. He would disapprove all attempts to make his 
utterances apply like a code of fixed rules to conditions he did 
not have to deal with or to talk about, since they did not 
then exist. "The letter killeth," he said, "but the spirit giveth 
life." It is the spirit of his teaching, not the letter of it, that 
gives life. 

One critic has raised a question by letter as to the "mutual 
consent" idea in the divorce of childless couples. "Suppose," 
he asks, "one member of the marriage wanted to quit while 
the other did not? If divorce were granted in the compan- 
ionate under such conditions, it would not really be by 
'mutual consent/ would it?" 

I admit that the words "mutual consent' J are not quite 
broad enough to fit precisely. But I find no satisfactory sub- 
stitute. Obviously, when it happened that one party wanted 
to continue the marriage while the other wanted its dis- 
solution (that being the one assumption on which divorce 
is granted in our courts at present, by the way) the 
case would have to be decided by a judge on its individual 
merits. I have seen many such cases. Each is different. 
Each is a problem in itself. Sometimes a psychiatrist can 
straighten the couple out and bring them to a basis of under- 
standing. Often I can do it myself. Usually the party who 
wants the divorce would be glad to change his or her mind 
if the conditions of the marriage could be made bearable. 
But sometimes it is impossible to alter the fact that one 
wants the divorce and that the other does not. 



1&2 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

Broadly speaking, it seems hardly conceivable that it 
could often be wise to maintain a marriage, especially a 
childless marriage, when it had ceased to be marriage by 
mutual consent. Lacking mutual consent in marriage, then the 
one alternative in logic and in fact would seem to be divorce 
by mutual consent. So why not call it that? 

These tragedies happen. Unrequited love is common. A 
wife clings to a husband who no longer loves her ; or a hus- 
band to a wife who is indifferent to him. No laws can change 
this; nor can such situations as a rule be made better by 
forcing the unwilling partner to remain in the union. This 
might happen sometimes; but very seldom unless the unwill- 
ing one consents voluntarily to try again, or to sacrifice his 
or her own preference for what, in the circumstances, seems 
an adequate reason. 

Usually divorce is indicated when a marriage has ceased to 
be "by mutual consent. " It is hard to see how the unloved 
partner in such a union could reasonably or wisely or rightly 
withhold "consent" to such divorce, however painful it might 
be to yield it, except when the rights of children were in- 
volved, or else some other vital consideration. And even when 
there are children, divorce is often the wiser course. 

I have a very moving letter from a woman in a large 
western city whose husband has ceased to love her, and is, 
with her consent, living with another woman whom he does 
love. This couple have separated. They remain good friends, 
and the man contributes to the support of their child. 

"Should I be ill," she says, "he would come to my aid im- 
mediately; and he does what he can for us financially. I 
see them together; and, dear Judge, it is as if a knife were 
plunged into my very soul, the ache is so tremendous. But 
what is the use what can I or should I do? Shall I give him 
a divorce (he says he doesn't want it) or shall I go on as I 
have been, hoping against hope that something will happen 
which will reunite us ; or shall I seek happiness and love, the 
latter being essential to my nature, elsewhere? 



LEGISLATING FOR THE COMPANION ATE MARRIAGE 183 

"Oh, I know there is fault chiefly in that I kept at him 
during our life together, to try and save, and be less ex- 
travagant which he has interpreted as nagging and as men- 
tal cruel ty." 

Now there is a child in this marriage a child who is 
being wronged and injured by this situation. Whether this 
couple could, for the sake of their child, make some compro- 
mise in marriage for the sake of providing that child with a 
home, is a question that depends on many complex things. 
There is no rule. I have in mind some women who have 
maintained a home under such conditions by allowing their 
husbands complete liberty in such outside attachments a& 
the one mentioned here. I have known men who have done 
likewise in order to find a basis on which they could continue 
to live with their wives and give their children a home. 1 
have known others, who having formed such outside attach- 
ments, gave them up, and who did it for the sake of their 
children, without grumbling because they thought that was 
the way to play the game. Sometimes the tensions that re- 
sult from these compromises prove unendurable to the per- 
sons involved. Sometimes the compromise is successful. It 
depends on the personal equation. 

This woman needed expert counsel in the beginning of her 
marriage. So do all persons who marry. It would be so much 
easier to prevent these domestic crashes than it is to repair 
the wreck after the crash comes. This woman began mar- 
riage ignorant of certain elementary facts about masculine 
psychology. Probably he was as ignorant of hers. Why not 
provide educational facilities to warn men and women against 
such pitfalls? If the wife had known what she knows now, 
she could probably have avoided this tragedy. If her husband 
clearly understood her present point of view, perhaps the 
situation could be mended even now. Who can say? When I 
mediate between such persons I can often make them see 
their common mistakes, and renew the foundations on which 
their love began. Suppose there were a House of Human 



184 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

Welfare to which this couple could have gone for counsel 
or to which they could go now. It should be provided. 

The point I want to make here is that no system can be 
devised that will insure absolutely against such situations. 
But the amount of that kind of thing could be reduced to a 
mere fraction of what it is at present if we managed marriage 
differently. 

In connection with divorce by mutual consent, the ques- 
tion of alimony and property is a grave one. This man, for 
instance, is not supporting his wife. He would be willing to 
support her, but his salary does not permit him to pay the 
maintenance cost of two households. His wife, in order to 
give him his liberty, undertakes to support herself. He con- 
tributes to the support of their child. Formerly it would 
have been difficult for the wife to assume the role of eco- 
nomic independence which has made the present relation 
possible. Women have of late years become more and more 
capable of self-support. 

A woman of thirty-five came to me the other day and 
asked me to require her husband to contribute to the support 
of their two children. They are a divorced couple. She is 
making $200 a month; and she explained with pride that she 
would not accept a cent from him for herself. "But I do 
think, " she added, "that he should contribute his share to the 
support of the children. There is no reason why that should 
fall wholly on me." Now if this marriage had been a com- 
panionate, it would have been easily possible for the couple 
to go their ways without the complication of alimony or any- 
thing like it. 

I encounter more and more of this spirit of independence 
among women. It is a very hopeful thing. Some accept ali- 
mony for a little while, to tide them over after divorce till 
they can dig in and make a living for themselves. They ex- 
pect to work. But there are others, of course, who accept the 
old idea that it is the duty of the husband to support his wife, 
whether or no ; that no married woman can fairly be expected 



LEGISLATING FOR THE COMPANIONATE MARRIAGE 1 8$ 

to support herself; that support for life was clearly indicated 
and implied in the bond; and that they are at liberty to settle 
down in idleness, and live on alimony for the rest of their 
lives, or for as long as the man can be forced to provide 
money. Indeed, there is a gold-digger type of woman who 
marries with the express intention of acquiring an alimony in- 
come for life by way of the divorce court. It is easily done 
under our present marriage code especially if the man hap- 
pens to be rich and able to afford the burden without special 
inconvenience to himself. 

In many of these cases there is an evident injustice. And 
yet it is impossible to lay down a general rule about it. Each 
case has to stand on its merits. For instance, some women 
cannot make a living. Often a woman has been accustomed 
all her life to a standard of living such that if she had to 
depend on what she could earn, the change of standards 
forced upon her would amount to descent into bitter poverty 
and want. To refuse alimony in such a case might be sheer 
cruelty. A woman used to a ten thousand or twenty thousand 
dollar income, but incapable, by reason of her lack of train- 
ing and capacity, of making more than the wages of a ribbon 
counter clerk, would be destroyed by such a change of stand- 
ards. 

It all comes down to the human approach. Such problems 
should be submitted to judges with the power, and the 
specialized training, to make wise human adjustments which 
would be fair rather than merely legal. They would seldom 
be perfect. We have to do the best we can. But at present we 
make almost no attempt at such adjustments. Justice is not 
at present dispensed on that plan. It is dispensed rather on 
a plan that is largely indifferent to equity, and to human 
happiness. Its chief characteristic is that it arrives at de- 
cisions and disposes of human tangles, with a minimum of in- 
convenience to society. It is a machine processed thing, a fliv- 
ver, not a hand-made creation in human artistry, as it 
should be. Artistry takes time, trouble, and money to achieve ; 



1 86 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

we haven't time for it. There is nothing so cheap on earth as 
human lives and human happiness; and nothing so costly as 
art. So why bother? 

There are some terrible abuses in the alimony system as 
we have it. In my own court, recently, I tried a case before a 
jury twice. A young man of thirty was sued for non-support 
by his wife, a woman of twenty-five. They had no children. 
The husband, at large expense to the county, was brought 
back from a distant state, under a charge of non-support and 
desertion. The first jury disagreed because of the fact that 
the man and woman were both equally able to earn a liv- 
ing. Some of the jury could not see why the woman should 
not support herself. 

Then the county was put to the expense of a second trial, 
in which the jury convicted the man on the technical argu- 
ments of the district attorney, which one of the jurors told 
me later they could not escape, though they thought them 
unjust. 

I was then compelled to order the man to pay fifty dol- 
lars a month for the support of the young woman; and he 
is still doing it, as the law requires. 

This is happening under a statute which does not distin- 
guish between the companionate and the family; and which 
provides simply that he must support his wife and children. 
The fact that there are no children makes no difference, nor 
does the fact that they are not living together, nor that she 
could wholly support herself. She is fastened on him like a 
leech. 

A Denver lawyer told me the other day that he lately 
represented a man of forty in a divorce case against the man's 
wife, aged twenty-eight. It was shown at the hearing, on ap- 
plication of the wife's lawyer for attorney fees and alimony, 
that the wife was employed by a large corporation at a 
salary of $150 a month. The husband was making $200 a 
month. The court ordered the husband to pay the wife's law- 
yer $200 attorney fees, and to pay his wife $75 a month 



LEGISLATING FOR THE COMPANIONATE MARRIAGE 187 

alimony. Thus the husband's income was reduced to $125 a 
month; and the wife's income was raised, without a cent of 
cost to her, to a clear $225 a month. The husband had to pay 
her lawyer and his own lawyer, the court costs all in addi- 
tion to $75 a month alimony. Figure out for yourself how long 
it took that man to get out of debt, and what chance he had 
of finding happiness again, either in or out of marriage. 
There isn't a day that I don't come in contact with these 
pompous stupidities of the law. 

These are some of the conditions that could be remedied 
if we had, for the companionate at least, a different way of 
dealing with questions of property and alimony. 

In family marriage the conditions would in some ways be 
different, and the arrangements could justly be made differ- 
ent, because family marriage would involve obligations de- 
liberately entered into. It would have been entered into with 
the clear understanding that when a man and woman have 
brought children into the world, the happiness and welfare 
of those children come before any question of the personal 
happiness of their parents; and that only under the urge 
of clear necessity could they expect divorce while their chil- 
dren were of an age to need their care. There would be reason 
and clear justice in expecting such persons to put their chil- 
dren first ; and ordinarily they would see the reasonableness 
of it and would play the game that way. 

It is a curious and interesting fact about divorce as we 
have it that the courts have habitually put the happiness of 
the parents first, and have made the welfare and happiness 
of the children a secondary matter. Couples with children 
can, under the present system, get a divorce as easily as if 
they had no children. And when the divorce is granted, the 
children simply have to make the best of the situation, and 
get along as they can. Material provision is made for them, 
but no spiritual provision. They have a right to both their 
parents; yet they are deprived of that, and of a two-parent 
home. The real victims of the divorce are thus the children, 



1 88 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

who are subject to spiritual deprivations which may warp 
and cripple them for life. 

How can we expect anything else with marriage and 
divorce as we have them? It is inevitable. For we permit 
couples to rush into family marriage to gratify a sex urge 
which can find no other legitimate outlet. They often mistake 
that urge for the basic congeniality which should be the basis 
of marriage. Romantic love without such basic congeniality 
is like a plant without roots. Lacking nourishment, or soil to 
grow in, it dies; whereas properly nourished, it might have 
lasted and flourished in a lifelong union. 

Too late the victims of such hasty marriages discover their 
mistake. Then it often happens that some relief, through 
divorce, is essential; arid to hold such people together is often 
worse for the children they ought not to have had, than di- 
vorce. At best it is an evil choice; for though the divorce mill 
may be the lesser of two evils, and though it may release the 
parents, and create a sort of peace where there has been 
strife, yet it often grinds the lives and the future of the chil- 
dren to pulp. And yet, we must have it; and we shall con- 
tinue to need a great deal of it till there is some safeguard 
against the conception of children by people who don't really 
love each other well enough to stick. 

The contention I am making for these changes in our mar- 
riage code is in reality nothing but a continuation, another 
step forward, in the fight I have been making through the 
last twenty-eight years for the welfare and betterment of the 
lot of women and children. It is a fight for the rights of 
women and children. 

Years ago a great struggle was waged between progres- 
sive forces in this country, and the reactionary forces led by 
certain of the clergy, for divorce. Liberalism slowly won. 
Women then found it possible to obtain release from brutal 
husbands and protection and support for their children. It 
was not perfect, but it was better than what we had had. 

Today it continues as a struggle to obtain for women an 



LEGISLATING FOR THE COMPANIONATE MARRIAGE 189 

equality of rights, in marriage including the right to have 
wanted children, with the help of birth control, and the right 
to control their destiny as individuals who are no longer in 
slavery. 

It continues as a struggle to give to every child the right 
to be wanted when it is conceived, the right to be well-born, 
of healthy parents who love each other, and the right to a 
home so well founded beforehand that divorce is not likely 
to touch it. 

More than that, it is a struggle, through the rational ap- 
plication of birth control and the rational ordering of mar- 
riage to meet the problem of overpopulation which now 
menaces the world and threatens it with fresh wars. For war 
has, in the past, been in the last analysis a clumsy and 
brutal method of keeping within bounds the population of 
nations that had no methods of birth control save dangerous 
abortion and unnatural infanticide. 

The work of settling the Western hemisphere has, for a 
hundred years, made population control less necessary than 
formerly. But now the saturation point is being reached, and 
already the problem, even in this vast country, is becoming 
acute. The difficulty is not to populate the earth, but to avoid 
an overpopulation that will outstrip the food supply and lead 
to wars as the only method of decimation. The howl about 
"Race Suicide" is specious nonsense. The breeding of chil- 
dren for quality rather than quantity is the next needful 
step. And this, I believe, may best be achieved by birth 
control used in conjunction with such a revision of our mar- 
riage code as is here suggested. Other factors enter in, of 
course, but a right ordering of marriage is basic. 

When this is accomplished, one of the most important 
fights in history for the rights of women and children will 
have been won. There will be more to do; but that achieve- 
ment will at any rate be posted to our credit. 

The ideal of marriage suggested in this book seems to me 
to be considerably more exacting than that evidently pre- 



SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

ferred by some of my conservative critics who hold that 
marriage as we have it is all right, and that the trouble lies 
with the men and women who enter it. This is a character- 
istically theological view of the matter. What I maintain is 
that people are rather likely to be pretty decent in their con- 
duct if our institutions and our system of education would 
give them a chance. 

In the ideal marriage we need to seek the union of two 
free personalities, which, without the imposition of any out- 
side force, will by slow degrees knit together and grow spiritu- 
ally into each other. 

This is not to be done in a day ; and it is not accomplished 
by an ecclesiastical fiat which, in a five-minute ceremony, 
performs the magic feat, the sacramental miracle of making 
two strangers into "one flesh." Time alone can work that 
miracle. 

Nor can this process of growth together be forced. If there 
be no freedom and spontaneity in it, it fails. The life goes 
from it. The consciousness of coercive authority often in- 
hibits and blasts it. The only stimulus that can make it grow 
is the stimulus that comes from within. With such stimulus, 
men and women will voluntarily make an effort to grow into 
each other's lives; they will surmount obstacles and diffi- 
culties and misunderstandings; they will together create be- 
tween them a love that is real and lasting. But introduce 
social coercion, and mutual ownership of each other, and the 
tyranny of jealousy! Instantly the element of moral responsi- 
bility and creative energy vanishes from the marriage. 

Held together now by coercive traditions, the couple aban- 
don the efforts at understanding which would have held them 
together. They become no longer responsible, but irrespon- 
sible, in their mutual dealings because society has given 
them over each other a tyrannical power of ownership which 
breeds irresponsibility as the sun breeds maggots. 

The very thing which many of my critics accuse me of 
trying to introduce into marriage was introduced into it 



LEGISLATING FOR THE COMPANIONATE MARRIAGE 

long ago by their authoritarian doctrines. They, and their 
predecessors in reactionary thought, have put anarchy and 
hate and bondage into marriage ; and now, quite rightly, they 
are alarmed when they see the fruit which their method and 
system is bringing forth. Some of us, tired of this ecclesiastical 
despotism, are minded to find other ways of dealing with 
this human problem. 

In the freedom of the companionate, people would have a 
safe opportunity to grow into each other's lives; and they 
would accomplish that object only if the elements of such 
growth were really present in their union. If such elements 
were lacking, they would discover the mistake, part, and go 
their ways. 

But if such growth did take place, then it would be a gen- 
uine thing, a real union. Having created that union of their 
lives out of the physical and spiritual intimacy of their 
association together in the companionate, they would then 
usually be able to carry this union effectively over into the 
graver obligations, the greater strain and stress, the more 
exacting duties, and the yet closer bond of the family the 
procreative marriage. 

Thus the family marriage would be a step forward a short 
step, easily taken, and well prepared for. It would not be 
a blind plunge into the unknown. And the new joys and re- 
sponsibilities, the new trials and difficulties, would all serve 
to bring the man and woman into the kind of union which is 
real marriage, and real monogamy growing constantly, and 
hence capable of lasting their life through, for the reason 
that it would be alive, and neither dead nor static. They 
would be ready for it; they would have slowly acquired the 
strength for it ; they would not be trying to leap twenty feet 
before they had learned to leap ten. 

The family would thus crown their lives. It would have 
grown as grows the oak, slowly. The early companionate 
would be a mere sapling beside it. And thus there would be 



192 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

created a home which would be a safe nest for children, and 
a sure refuge for the makers of it. 

No marriage, I think, can reach its full possibilities with- 
out children, either natural or adopted. To those who have 
made a success of marriage, with happy children growing 
up around them, I need not say that here is indeed an over- 
flowing cup. 

I do not mean that family marriage is necessarily the most 
beneficial for all persons. There are those who are not in- 
dividually adapted to it, and who can find a higher personal 
development, either without marriage, or with the compan- 
ionate. Such persons may need to be able to put forth their 
undivided energies in directions with which the family is 
not compatible. 

But for most of us it still holds true that the family is the 
ideal to reach for. Approach it gradually, grow into it by the 
safe route of the companionate, and no other way of life 
offers such inspiring possibilities. Here is the road by which 
most of the race can attain greater spiritual heights than by 
any other. This we comprehend and feel, as by an inner 
vision. And that is why we cling to marriage and will never 
let it go. 



LOVE, MARRIAGE, AND DIVORCE IN RUSSIA l 

By V. F. Calverton 

IT is in the problems of love, marriage, and divorce 
that the advance in morality in Soviet Russia has been most 
direct and decisive. Love and the sex life have been freed of 
the superstitions and silences which had clouded, confused 
and bound them; marriage has been liberated from the re- 
ligious and ceremonial rites in which it had once been bound ; 
divorce has been converted into an intelligent device, dis- 
enslaved from duplicity and deceit and accessible to all. As 
a result, morality has been emancipated from the stereotyped 
stupidities of an enforced convention and an inelastic code. 

Love and the sex life are looked upon in Soviet Russia as 
the private privilege of the individual, and not the concern 
of the state. This attitude, which English moralists, such as 
Havelock Ellis, Bertrand Russell and Edward Carpenter, in 
the vanguard of their contemporaries, have urged in theory v 
the Russians have put into practice. This achievement k 
phenomenal. It marks the Introduction of an intelligence into 
morals that is noteworthy and significant. The sex life of 
individuals is not to be subject to supervision or punishment. 
It is only when children are involved that the relation be- 
comes a social matter, and necessitates the intervention of 
the state. This intervention, it should be added, is always in 
behalf of the woman, and every law concerning it is designed 
for her protection. The history of moral standards in the 
West, particularly during the last three hundred years, has 
been one of close restrictions and confinements. Love and the 
sex life, once bartered for a dowry or sold for a shilling, had 

1 From Bankruptcy of Marriage. New York: The Macaulay Com- 
pany, 1928. 

193 



TTQ4 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

been regulated by law and rigid social custom. The individual 
had to fit his impulse into this organized and unnatural order 
of behavior. In Soviet Russia suffering occasioned by the 
conflict between economics and impulse has been dissolved. 

The education of the individual in sex begins at an early 
age. Sex instruction is part of the general curriculum in every 
educational institution of consequence. This instruction is 
characterized by a candor that endeavors to destroy the 
foolish confusions and absurdities which ordinarily grow up 
about the topic in the minds of Western youth. This instruc- 
tion is not instruction obfuscated by analogy and impaired 
by properly punctuated omissions. When we recall the state- 
ments in reference to the wisdom of such instruction for youth 
in America, an excellent idea of contrast between prudishness 
and candor, between convention and reason, between supersti- 
tion and science, is provided. The American scientist who dis- 
approved of a thorough study in the anatomical differences 
between the sexes is a splendid example of the surrender of 
intelligence to custom. Such an attitude is not only absurd, but 
it is nothing more than a foolish memory of an unenlightened 
past in Soviet Russia. It is for this reason that children 
grow up in that country with an understanding of sex that is 
uncharacterized by pruriency and evasion. Such instruction 
after all must be the basis for any sensible study of the prob- 
lem of sex. Such instruction must begin in youth if it is to 
be effective in combating the myth and mystery in which 
sex has been hitherto enveiled. Without it love and the sex 
life can never be felicitous and exquisite. 

Despite our conventions, customs, and codes, men have 
been mastered by sex, and not the masters of it. The dis- 
ruption of the old code in the Western world represents only 
an increasingly concentrated revolt against a set of moral 
regulations. Preceding this contemporary revolt were the un- 
told individual revolts which were scorned by society, casti- 
gated by law, but which had nevertheless not ceased. The 
double standard of morality evinced likewise the incom- 



LOVE, MARRIAGE, AND DIVORCE IN RUSSIA IQ5 

patibility of moral regulations with masculine impulse the 
male revolted, however, because he could afford to revolt; 
the female did not revolt because she could not afford it. 
Now that she can afford it, too, she has revolted also. Sex 
reaction under the double code became distorted and its ex- 
pression ruined by monotony or often aberration. The costs 
of suppression, and the deceptions occasioned by its viola- 
tion, have left their imprints, deep and often ineradicable 
in the nervous structure of modern man. Our neurotic and 
psychotic age is closely connected with this suppression. No 
sane sex ethic could arise from such a moral outlook. It was 
only by destroying the concealments that had been perpetu- 
ated about sex in the minds of youth, removing the suppres- 
sions that had been urged and enforced by bourgeois society, 
that Soviet Russia has been able to erect a new ethical edifice. 
Ignorance had to be supplanted by knowledge, suppression 
had to be removed, and spontaneity of impulse had to replace 
conformities of conduct. 

The new laws regarding marriage and divorce in Soviet 
Russia have been constructed in such a manner as to provide 
for the expression of this new attitude. Marriage and divorce 
are freer in Soviet Russia than in any other part of the 
Western world. Notwithstanding this advance, even these 
laws do not yet attain this ideal. As M. I. Kalinin said: 

"The new law is not entirely new. It only makes a big 
step forward." 2 Or as stated in the early edition of the code: 

Only time and experience will show how many of the pro- 
visions of this code belong to the transitional category, 
features which are destined to vanish with the more perfect 
establishment of the socialist order. In certain clauses, how- 
ever, there is clearly to be discerned a conscious recopnition 
of conditions and habits of life surviving from the old order. 
Such survivals are inevitable at this time when neither the 

2 Quoted from Marriage and Family, A. Prigradov-Kudrin. (Soviet 
Publication). 



196 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

economic nor psychological transformation is complete. There 
are provisions respecting property and income which will 
inevitably be subject to obsolescence or amendment. The law 
of guardianship, essentially revolutionary as it is, is yet no 
more than a first tentative approach to the realization of col- 
lective responsibility for the care of the young. The laws of 
marriage and divorce still bear traces of the passing order, 
frank and sensible acknowledgment of the existence of cer- 
tain economic and psychological conditions only to be over- 
come when the complete change is accomplished. 

If all the traces of the old order have not been eradicated 
from the new marriage laws in the Soviet Union, the mythical, 
magical, and religious aspects have certainly been discarded. 
Marriage now is only a civil procedure. While couples may 
still be married by a religious ceremony, their action is not 
legal until it has undergone civil sanction. The religious rite, 
which is discouraged, is unessential; the civil alone is vital. 
Under the Tzar the opposite situation was conspicuous. If 
a man and woman lived together for thirty years, and had ten 
children, the couple could not appear as man and wife unless 
a church marriage was effected, nor could the children appear 
as progeny of the father. According to the old Russian law 
this man was not their father, and in the bureau of births 
these children were entered as born illegitimately, of an un- 
known father. The woman had no rights to the property of 
the man nor did his children; if he died intestate his prop- 
erty went to his relatives. In fact, according to penal statute, 
every woman who lived with a man, in an unmarried state, 
could be categorized as a "prostitute/ 7 3 This condition of 
woman in Tzaristic Russia was akin to that in the England 
of the pure-passioned Victorians. Today in Soviet Russia 
such a condition harks back to the archaic. A man and 
woman are recorded as father and mother, whether their 
marriage is registered or not. The woman, therefore, suffers 

3 Ibid. 



LOVE, MARRIAGE, AND DIVORCE IN RUSSIA 197 

no isolation or scorn. Her child has the same rights and is 
looked upon in the same way whether she is married or un- 
married. If she lives with a man without marriage, she is 
viewed in the same way as if she lives with a man to whom 
she is married. The registration of a marriage, therefore, has 
a statistical rather than a moral value. 

The attitude toward marriage, which refuses to insert any 
distinction between registered or unregistered marriage, is 
indicative of how free marital relations are in Soviet Russia. 
The equalization of registered and unregistered marriage, for 
a time was a matter of anxious dispute. Many were opposed 
to equalizing the two types of marriage. At first only 
registered marriages were looked upon with favor and those 
who were registered as married had advantages over those 
who were unregistered. Soltz and Riazanov were sturdily 
opposed to this equalization of marriages. The controversy 
was exciting and hard-fought. Moirova, one of the woman 
delegates active in this dispute, classified the contentions of 
Soltz and Riazanov as tainted with remains of bourgeois 
morality. Her words are a challenge-call: 

"What are we? Bourgeois moralists, that we occupy our- 
selves with such a distinction?" 

City groups were much more in favor of equalization than 
rural groups, although at many of the village-meetings the 
vote was for abolition of all distinction. The question thus 
was debated in every part of Russia and it was the masses 
who finally decided in favor of the equalization of both types 
of marriage. 4 

Apropos of this dispute over registered and unregistered 
marriages, one of the statements made in the Ukraine, in 
protest against the advantage given to registered marriage, is 
astonishingly clear and concise in voicing the attitude in 
contemporary Russia: 

4 Ibid. 



198 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

Marriage is a private act of the citizen which does not 
concern the state ... a voluntary relationship made by two 
citizens. 8 

It should be mentioned also that before the masses voted 
in favor of equalization of registered and unregistered mar- 
riages, many statistics were adduced to stress the wisdom of 
such equalization. D. I. Kurski showed that in 1923 un- 
registered marriages far exceeded those registered ; the actual 
ratio was 70,000 to 100,000 unregistered. Furthermore, in 
a study of 300 alimony cases in Moscow state court it was 
found that 14 of the children resulted from casual relations, 
41 from long cohabitation, 68 from short-time cohabitation 
extending up to one year. It was further estimated by Kurski 
that at least 15 per cent of couples living together did not 
register their marriage. 

According to the new law, now, both registered and un- 
registered marriages have the same right and privilege. 6 The 
husband in an unregistered marriage has the same rights and 
duties as in a registered; the same is true of the wife. Before 
this equalization these rights and duties did not exist. Then 
the right of one person to be supported by the other in case 
of illness or inability to work did not obtain. Nor was there 
the right of inheritance at death. The dissolution of these 
distinctions was a move of not a little importance. 

As in the discussion in reference to registered and un- 
registered marriages, the consideration of the entire marital 
code which now prevails in Soviet Russia was discussed by 
the entire population before a decision was consummated. 
The new marital code is not a device of one group or of one 
sex to foist a morality upon another. The workers and peas- 

8 Novy Mir, February, IQ27. 

6 An unregistered marriage is a marriage in which the relations 
respond to the conditions in the code: Proofs of a marital cohabi- 
tation before third parties in the form of personal correspondence 
and other documents; the jointship of their property in this co- 
habitation, joint upbringing of children, etc. 



LOVE, MARRIAGE, AND DIVORCE IN RUSSIA 1 99 

ants discussed this marital code for a whole year before it was 
accepted. S. M. Glikin, describing the procedure, states: 

The All-Russian Central Ispolkom decided not to sanction 
the new law until it could be discussed by the workers. Dur- 
ing a whole year the new laws were discussed in factories, 
shops, village-meetings, and military organizations. . . . The 
laboring masses of the Republic discussed it with great at- 
tention. ... In its final form, thus, it represents the con- 
clusions of millions of workers in cities and villages. 7 

The statement of another Soviet writer, Kudrin, is also 
pertinent : 

... the new code of marriage and family is not only a law 
forged out by the hands of many millions of laboring people, 
but it also reflects the spirit of the revolutionary state. 

Here is a morality, then, that actually expresses the volun- 
tary desire and choice of a people. Over 6,000 debates on 
the subject were held in villages alone, and thousands more 
in towns and cities. It manifests the spirit of an epoch. 

Marriage in the Soviet Union cannot bind the woman as 
it does in other countries. Woman's freedom is not a passive 
"thing, but an active, dynamic reality. In the protest of 
Moirova flashes the assertiveness and independence of the 
new Russian woman: "After I read the statement in the code 
to the effect that the change of location of one of the spouses 
does not necessitate that the other follow him, I confess I 
could not understand why, ten years after the Revolution, 
this must be stated in a special article. Is it not understood 
that we live at such a time where we can choose as we please 
the place we desire? Are there still among us people who 
think that a wife must follow her husband? This is too much, 
comrades." Very often women sever themselves entirely from 
their old existence, demand a divorce, and forge their way 

7 The New Law Concerning Marriage, Divorce, Family, and 
Guardianship. 



200 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

into a freer life. 8 This revolt attests the growth of feminine 
resolution and intelligence. The working woman is constantly 
instructed in the nature of her rights, and in the importance 
of their expression. Her advance is cultivated as much as that 
of man. Marriage as a consequence can never become an 
institution of inequality, as it has been in the past, and still 
is in other nations. 

With the removal of the religious element in marriage, and 
the establishment of the right of the woman to obtain and 
determine the destiny of her property after marriage, the 
developments in divorce follow in natural sequence. Just as 
it is expected that in the "future Communist society of course 
there will be no registration of marriage at all," and that "if 
the code of 1918 made registration necessary, it did so only 
to fit the conditions of the moment, and as a transitory ex- 
pedient," 9 in the laws pertaining to divorce, it has been 
necessary to insert, in particular reference to children, clauses 
that are still without the extraordinary freedom of the so- 
cialist ideal. Nevertheless, the most revolutionary factory of 
the new Russian mores is that of the free divorce. It is the 
advance made in this field which facilitates an easy future 
development for this entire ethic. Divorce can be got by 
mutual consent, or even at the instigation of one party, on 
the ground of incompatibility. The statement of the code is 
unambiguous: 

The mutual consent of the husband and wife or the desire 
of either of them to obtain a divorce shall be considered a 
ground for divorce. 

Under the Tzar, divorce had been accessible only to the 
opulent. Today it is a liberating device, attainable by every 
worker and peasant in the Soviet Republics. The collusion 
and camouflage that are necessitated in other countries, when 

8 I. A. Rostovsky, The New Law Concerning Marriage, Divorce, 
Family and Guardianship. (Third Edition, Soviet Pamphlet.) 

9 Prigradov-Kudrin, Marriage and Family. 



LOVE, MARRIAGE, AND DIVORCE IN RUSSIA 2OI 

the genuine reason for divorce is incompatibility, are su- 
perfluous in the Soviet Union. While in Switzerland divorce 
upon the basis of mutual consent is valid, there is not in the 
Swiss attitude the far-spanning vision that is embodied in 
the Russian. Absolute freedom in divorce is the Russian ideal. 
Divorce should always be, unless there are children involved, 
the concern of the individuals themselves and no one else. 
Artifice and subterfuge are at once hostile and alien to this 
concept. They stultify its theory. The freedom of divorce 
in Soviet Russia, therefore, has been expanded to a maximum. 
As S. M. Glikin avers: 

Soviet divorce is so free that if one of the parties wants a 
divorce, it is enough to announce it in the Ispolkom. The 
other of the spouses is then informed about the divorce hav- 
ing taken place. 10 

In other words, if one party wishes a divorce, it is an injury 
rather than a benefit to deny it. Continuance of marital 
relationships, then, should depend upon spontaneity and not 
compulsion. Marriages which continue even when one of the 
parties desires discontinuance and separation, or both as 
is so frequent in the Western world are but a private mad- 
house for individual or individuals. That coercion is an un- 
healthful and foolish method to be used in marital relations, 
no progressive thinker would dispute. Marital felicity cer- 
tainly cannot depend upon legal enforcements. In reference 
to divorce and coercion, the comment of the Soviet writer 
Rostovsky is instructive: 

To give any explanations why one of the spouses wants 
divorce is unnecessary ... for to remain married, or to dis- 
solve the marriage, depends entirely upon the desire of one of 
the spouses; to endeavor to coerce them is impossible, and, 
therefore, any explanation is unnecessary. 11 

10 The New Law Concerning Marriage, Divorce, Family, and 
Guardianship. 

11 Ibid. 



2O2 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

To expedite the simplicity of this process it is not even 
necessary that the parties desiring divorce appear originally 
in person: 

A petition for the dissolution of marriage may be presented 
orally or in writing and an official report shall be drawn 
thereon. 

Shortly thereafter the court will 

set the day for the examination of the petitions and give 
notice thereof to the parties and (where necessary) their 
attorneys. 

While in the recent agitation in reference to the ex- 
pediency of equalizing registered and unregistered marriages, 
there was a fervor and fury in the clash of pros and cons, 
and differences waxed intense and vehement, in the question 
of divorce there were no pros and cons, in fact, no argument 
at all. I. I. Iliynski, in reporting the recent conference, 
declared that "the great majority agreed that the freedom to 
destroy marriage should be preserved in full." 

In the problem of children it is the mother and child that 
are primarily protected. The presence of children is the only 
impediment to freedom of divorce. Under these conditions a 
divorce is not granted until the wife and children have been 
duly provided for against suffering and deprivation. The 
husband thus seeking a divorce must apportion his wages ac- 
cording to the decision of the court before the divorce is 
granted. Under ordinary circumstances, one-third of his wage 
is requisite for each child. Of course, where there are more 
children, or where his wife is incapacitated for work, other 
provisions, determined by the case, are made. It can be ap- 
preciated at once from these facts that the woman and child 
are consequently saved from suffering and distress. 

Although divorce has now been made open for all, and its 
pursuit unaccompanied by difficulty of explanation or ex- 



LOVE, MARRIAGE, AND DIVORCE IN RUSSIA 203 

penditure, the rate of divorce in Soviet Russia has not been 
spectacular. The only time when divorces raced beyond nor- 
mal predictions was at the very beginning of the new code. 
When the code was first put into effect, it gave an oppor- 
tunity to thousands who had been oppressed under the 
marital regulations of the Tzarist regime to take advantage 
of the new freedom of divorce. Since then the rate has not 
experienced such exaggerated ratios. In 1922, for instance, 
there were ten divorces for each ten thousand inhabitants; 
in 1923 there were eleven; and in 1924 and 1925 approxi- 
mately the same rate persisted. Fifty-three per cent of the 
divorces, it should be remarked, had been married for one 
year, and thirteen per cent for periods of longer duration. 
When we recall from our previous studies in divorce ratios 
that the average in the United States is 15.3 divorces for 
every ten thousand inhabitants, the statistics in Soviet Rus- 
sia might appear comforting even to the conservative. With 
freedom of divorce the ratio of divorces is less than with the 
lack of freedom such an argument might be projected by 
a moralist from these statistics. It would be unfair, however, 
not to observe certain factors in the Russian situation that 
are bound to hold the divorce rate at a surprisingly low level. 
The practice of unregistered marriages would obviously not 
affect the divorce rate by virtue of their discontinuance. 
There would be no record of these separations to enter upon 
the divorce calendar. It would only be the presence of chil- 
dren that would ever bring them up for social study or con- 
sideration. In addition it is very likely, despite the wide dis- 
cussion of the topic all over Russia, that many peasants do 
not realize fully the opportunities for individual freedom 
from marital bondage that is inherent in the new code. The 
presence of these factors, however, should offer no cause for 
perturbation or alarm. Increase in divorce is a source of 
destruction only where the perpetuation of the old family is 
desired. Divorce in the West is a cancerous evil because it 
signifies the disintegration of the monogamous family which 



204 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

is still entertained as a moral ideal in both western Europe 
and the United States. In Soviet Russia where this ideal is 
contemned as obsolescent, and the future is conceived in 
terms of its extinction, divorce is a benefit and not an evil. 
As the hurly-burly of the young days and months of the 
Revolution subsided into a more orderly change, ideas and 
impulses once topsy-turvied by the excitement and drama 
of spreading chaos became more soundly oriented and crys- 
tallized. In those tumultuous-spirited years of revolution, 
counter-revolution, intervention and famine, moral revolt 
went mad with iconoclastic fury. Everything of the old order 
was flung aside with a contempt bred in bitterness. All traces 
of old forms and conventions, however vestigial or at- 
tenuated, were beaten and buried beneath the derisive epithet 
of "bourgeois." The word "bourgeois" became synonymous 
with everything ugly, hideous and indescribably repulsive. 
Converted into "boorzhooy," it became the embodiment of 
even more contempt and hatred. In mystic verse that wove 
the march of "The Twelve" into the footprints of the Revo- 
lution, Alexander Blok fused a fantasy, inspired by religious 
fervor, with sneer and scorn for the "boorzhooy": 

The boorzhooy, like a hungry mongrel, 
A silent question stands and begs, 

The old world like a kinless mongrel 
Stands there, its tail between its legs. 

Youths flaunted with riotous audacity the banners of their 
revolt. Girls who endeavored to retain the old virtues, or in- 
sisted upon delicate discriminations, were spurned with ridi- 
cule. Students flashed manifestos upon the walls of schools 
and colleges; chastity was belittled in quip and epigram, and 
continence was condemned as insane and ridiculous. Freedom 
became a fetish, anfl loveliness was lost in excess. The slow 
restoration of order inserted the first check upon these im- 
petuosities and indiscriminate enthusiasms. Love and the sex: 
life which had become enmeshed in the confusions of thr^e- 



LOVE, MARRIAGE, AND DIVORCE IN RUSSIA 2 05 

hectic years gradually disentangled themselves and fumbled 
about for new foundations. While the old could not be abided, 
the new could not afford to sacrifice everything precious 
merely for the sake of novelty. Sex had to be approached 
with sanity if it was to be mastered by men at all. And so, 
as the Revolution matured and the new order shaped itself 
into a new diaphragm, these early exaggerations and ex- 
cesses dwindled, and the basis of the new morality, organized 
about the new code, was begun. 

It is this new morality which we find expressed in the 
independent position of woman, and the new marriage and 
divorce laws written into the legal code of Soviet Russia. 
In these changes are manifested the first strides in the direc- 
tion of a new ethic. 



V 

EUGENICS 



HEREDITY AND SEX * 
By Edward M. East 

AFRICAN travelers agree that no ostrich ever tried to out- 
maneuver a danger by sticking his head in the desert sand. 
This recipe for solving problems was invented by man in 
order to deal with matters connected with sex. In a world 
peopled by men and women, the subject naturally holds an 
important position. Every social question arises from, or is 
linked with, the differences between the sexes; yet since the 
domination of St. Paul's theology civilized nations have tried 
to manage their affairs, posing the while as if the sexual 
factor were non-existent. 

This pretense is passing, and we are well rid of it. We 
have begun to realize that the subjective dominance of the 
sex appeal, which shows so clearly in the love interests per- 
vading our literature, drama, and art, is the emotion to be 
expected of normal people. The mask of apathy is the ab- 
normal, and psychologists have shown that it often cloaks 
something more inglorious than mere sham. 

Sex is an interesting subject. One may say this today with- 
out forfeiting his claim to respectability. It is interesting be- 
cause apart from its other bearings it holds a prominent 
place among the objective studies of the biologist. And prop- 
erly so. Sexual reproduction is the keystone of the whole evo- 
lutionary structure. This world would have had a monotonous 
history without it, not because it leads man to become a 
"chaos of thought and passion all confused/' but because 
there would have been no such noble animal to disturb the 
music of the spheres. Our humble planet would have rolled 

1 From Heredity and Human Affairs, New York: Charles Scrib- 
ner's Sons, 1927. 

209 



2IO SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

on to its final doom of cold and death with the inglorious 
record of having produced nothing even as momentous and 
exciting as a jelly-fish or a grasshopper. Variety was the 
price of life for man, and no one of Nature's numerous ex- 
periments in propagation permitted the production of such 
varied forms as did the creation of a new individual by the 
union of two cells. 

The reasons why such conclusions have been generally ac- 
cepted are numerous. Perhaps the simplest argument is the 
following We know that sexual methods of reproduction 
were not abandoned because they were too slow. In one week 
a vigorous fungus like the corn-smut can produce a number 
of potential new plants in the form of spores, greater than 
the total human population during the Christian era. The 
fusion of two cells is a distinct loss of time. We know too 
that spores, buds, bulbs, offshoots, and other similar methods 
of multiplication are very good means of keeping species 
flourishing, for numerous sorts which reproduce in this man- 
ner are with us today. But species which did not adopt sexual 
reproduction remained lowly and unspecialized, and species 
which abandoned it abandoned the road of progress at the 
same time. Why? Simply because evolution moves by steps, 
by mutations, and these changes are inherited independently 
of one another. When half-a-dozen mutations occur in a given 
stock of the asexual type, therefore, that stock has only six 
chances to escape annihilation at the ruthless hand of Natural 
Selection. There are six opportunities of fitting into the gen- 
eral scheme of things with the alternative of being removed 
from the scheme entirely. On the other hand, six variations 
in a sexually reproducing organism where there is an oppor- 
tunity for crossing gives two to the sixth power possibilities 
for survival, or 64 all told, through hereditary recombination. 
It makes a great difference. 

Formerly it was thought that species propagating only by 
asexual methods gradually died out through loss of some 
mysterious sort of vital energy. Why people drew such con- 



HEREDITY AND SEX 2 It 

elusions in face of the fact that some of the most ancient 
types show no traces of sex is an enigma which must be left 
to the psychologist, but they did. They believed that sexual 
reproduction meant rejuvenation, a kind of fountain of 
youth. The idea appears to have arisen because Paramoecium, 
a one-celled organism which is shaped like a bedroom-slipper, 
dies under ordinary laboratory conditions after a hundred 
or so generations of reproduction by division. Given the op- 
portunity, however, these tiny slipper-animals fuse together, 
The twain become one flesh in physical reality, and after- 
wards return to asexual multiplication with great activity an6 
vigor. Woodruff, 2 of Yale, and Jennings, 3 of Johns Hop- 
kins, have given us the true explanation of this strange be- 
havior. These animalculae are poisoned by the by-products of 
their own life processes. If waste products are removed and 
new food given periodically, Paramoecium cultures can be 
kept in a perfect state of health for thousands of generations 
without conjugation, but conjugation serves as a kind of 
antidote to bad living conditions. By studying the behavior 
of the descendants after conjugation, moreover, Jennings 
found that only certain ones show renewed vigor. It is be- 
lieved, therefore, that conjugation is not of itself a rejuve- 
nator, but that only those individuals having desirable com- 
binations of hereditary characters profit by the transaction. 
Essentially, sexual reproduction is a method of propaga- 
tion dependent on the behavior of the chromosomes. Again 
we must focus attention on those protoplasmic freight-trains 
within each living cell which link generation to generation, 
and whose operations with the materials they contain build 
up the body characters of every organism. When a type is 
sufficiently simple and unspecialized to go on its way living 
and reproducing its image by mere chromosome divisions, 
we say that its propagation is asexual; when a type propa- 

2 L. L. Woodruff, "The Life Cycle of Paramoecium When Subjected 
to a Varied Environment" Amer. Nat. 42, 1908. 

3 H. S. Jennings, Behaviour of the Lower Organisms. New York: 
The Macmillan Company, 1906. 



212 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

gates by a fusion of chromosome sets from two cells, we be- 
lieve that it has taken on the significant features of sexual 
reproduction. 

Nature is not niggardly in her experiments. She will try 
almost anything, not only once but many times. She believes 
in giving new ideas a chance. By all the evidence sex has 
arisen again and again in both the animal and vegetable 
kingdoms, and the various guises under which the scheme 
is carried on are almost innumerable. These various expedi- 
ents, however, are but cloaks for one process, a shifting of 
chromosome materials in the preparation of the germ-cells 
and their further recombination at fertilization. 

What appears to be an origin of sex occurs today in the 
tiny green alga (Ulothrix) one finds as a scum in stagnant 
water. In this species large fat spores are formed when times 
are prosperous which need only proper housing conditions to 
germinate and produce their kind. Under the pressure of ad- 
versity, on the other hand, it produces starved-looking, lonely 
little spores which must cast their lot together so intimately 
as to become one body before they can start life anew. And 
among primitive animals a very similar round of affairs takes 
place. 

After the origin of sex the evolutionary trfcnd in both 
kingdoms was in astonishing agreement. First the germ-cells 
were like ordinary cells, showing their difference only in the 
attraction they had for one another; yet even so, there is no 
harm in calling one the male and the other the female. After- 
wards, germ-cells distinct in form appeared. Still later, types 
arose in which specialized organs produced the germ-cells. 
The final step in each kingdom, the mammals and the seed 
plants, was the protection of the young. 

Let us now forget the sex problems of the plants and turn 
our attention to the higher animals. We may excuse this 
partiality by two reasons. In the first place, the sex problems 
of the vegetable world are superficially even more compli- 
cated than those of the animal world. In the second place, 



HEREDITY AND SEX 213 

we are not interested so much in plant biology as in animal 
biology. Man recognizes his mammalian relationship even 
when he will not admit it openly, and he likes to write and 
talk and speculate about matters that are at least re- 
lated to his own private affairs. 

In most of the higher animals there are males and females. 
There are hermaphroditic organisms, it is true, where the 
two kinds of germ-cells are borne in the same individual. 
There are even animals which are first females, because they 
bear eggs, and afterwards males, because they bear sperms. 
But this unusual type of sexuality is nearly always confined 
to forms that are parasitic or otherwise degenerate. The tape- 
worm is a good example. The old Hebrew observation, "male 
and female created he them," still holds as a fair approxima- 
tion of the facts; and this brings up the question of what 
determines the proceeding. We know why there are males 
and females. We want to know the how of the matter. 

The subject has been very popular. A generation or more 
ago Drelincourt counted some 500 dead theories of sex- 
determination, and his theory along with a trail of suc- 
cessors long since has gone to s\yell the number. It would be 
unnecessary to mention these speculations here were it not 
that their ghosts are so hard to lay. One meets them time 
and again in modern publications whose authors ought to 
know better. There may be germs of truth in some of them, 
but any spark of life they have is usually so choked with 
falsehood and ignorance that the theories are doomed from 
the beginning. 

The advantage of most of these hypotheses, from the 
standpoint of the originators, was the difficulty of putting 
them to a critical test. Thus they were useful longer than 
would otherwise have been the case. The idea that the two 
sexes were controlled individually by the right and left mem- 
bers of the paired reproductive glands was practically useless. 
Being verifiable, it was killed by the first facts obtained. 
Let a man with an inferiority complex get started with a 



214 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

compensatory notion of male superiority, on the other hand, 
and his theory was hard to refute. Queerly enough, though, in 
the majority of such theories the most highly developed sex, 
the mentally superior sex, or the physically vigorous sex, 
whichtwere males of course, was nearly always supposed to 
produce the opposite sex in proportion to its assumed su- 
periority. No doubt the originators were blessed with large 
families of girls. Conversely, Girou, who identified the sex 
of the offspring with that of the most vigorous parent, must 
have wished to congratulate himself over a preponderant lot 
of boys. 

We now know that sex in the higher animals is largely 
a matter of heredity, and is usually determined irrevocably 
by the kinds of eggs and sperm which meet at the time of 
fertilization. Unfortunately, the word usually must be used 
to qualify the statement, as will be seen later. 

The first piece of real evidence on the subject came from 
a study of human twins. 4 Two kinds exist. There are fraternal 
twins who look no more alike than other members of the 
same family. About half of the time they consist of two boys 
or two girls, the other half of the time there is a boy and a 
girl. Then there are identical twins, whose features and man- 
nerisms are remarkably alike, and these are always of the 
same sex. Fraternal twins result from the fertilization of two 
ova by two sperms, as is shown by the separate sets of 
membranes enclosing the embryos. Identical twins, since they 
are both enclosed in one set of membranes, must have their 
origin in the separate development of two segments pro- 
duced by a single fertilized ovum. Where development is not 
wholly separate, such bizarre creatures as the Siamese twins 
are iormed. It is difficult to imagine how such results could 
have come about unless sex were determined at fertilization. 

4 Two excellent books on twins are The Biology of Twins (1917) 
and The Physiology of Twinning, by H. H. Newman (1923). Chi- 
cago University Press. 



HEREDITY AND SEX 21$ 

If it were otherwise, identical twins should consist of a boy 
and a girl just as frequently as fraternal twins. 

In the early part of the present century, when the study 
of heredity by controlled matings became the popular mode 
of research in biology, another bit of support to this idea 
appeared. When an individual, hybrid for a single pair of 
character-determiners, is crossed back with the recessive 
parent, the resulting progeny are half of the dominant and 
half of the recessive type. Thus DR X RR gives DR X RR. 
By analogy one could not avoid suspecting that one of the 
sexes is similarly a hybrid producing two kinds of germ- 
cells, and the other a pure type producing germ-cells all of 
one kind, since the sex ratio in so many animals is very 
close to equality. Several slightly different hypotheses were 
published interpreting sex in this way, but the first direct 
proof was put forward by Dr. C. E. McClung, 5 of the Uni- 
versity of Pennsylvania, in 1902. A few years earlier a Ger- 
man investigator had noticed an unpaired chromosome in 
half of the sperm-cells of certain insects he was studying, 
He reported the matter, but thought little of it. McClung now 
found the same feature in the reproductive cells of various 
insects, and suggested that this odd chromosome element was 
the sex-determiner. 

Other American cytologists then began to investigate nu- 
merous species of animals, and corroborated McClung's ob- 
servations in wholesale fashion. In most insects, in many 
worms, and in all mammals studied, including man himself, 
the male was the sex-determiner. Half of the sperm-cells 
contained this sex chromosome, which became known as the 
X Chromosome, and half were without it. The egg-cells all 
contained it. When a sperm carrying an X chromosome 
fertilized an egg, a female was produced who had two X 
chromosomes in each of her body-cells. When a sperm having 
no X chromosome entered into fertilization, an individual 

5 C. E. McClung, "The Accessory Chromosome Sex-Determinant?' 
Biol. Bull, 3, 1902. 



2l6 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

was formed with only a single X of maternal origin in the 
body-cells, and this individual was a male. 

In some instances the X chromosome was found to be an 
unpaired element which, at the maturation of the germ-cells, 
passed to one of the daughter cells undivided. Its behavior 
therefore could be studied easily. In other species the X 
had a mate, a F chromosome; but even then the behavior 
of these particular elements during the formation of the germ- 
cells was different from that of the other chromosomes. As if 
conscious of the importance of the role they played, they 
often hung back during cell division, joining their sister 
chromosomes at a slightly later stage. The entrance and 
exit of star performers belonged to them, and they took it. 

Here then are several great groups of organisms where the 
male controls the sex by virtue of producing two kinds of 
sperm. The female is a passive actor, for all eggs are alike. 
But Nature showed no favoritism. She gave the female an 
opportunity to show her efficiency at this performance in 
moths, butterflies, and birds. There the sperms are all alike 
and the eggs are of two kinds. The determination of sex 
thus comes about in essentially the same old way. 

If sex control is a chromosome function 3 similar in char- 
acter to the chromosome control of other inherited traits, 
body qualities ought to be found that are transmitted by 
the particular chromosome which determines maleness and 
femaleness. Such a situation has been discovered, not once 
but a hundred times. In man, for instance, there are two 
recessive characters, a bloody abnormality called hemophilia 
and color-blindness, where the affliction is more common in 
males than in females, and where the hereditary transmission 
is peculiar. They are not transmitted from father to son, nor 
do they appear in the son's descendants, yet the daughters 

3 See Heredity and Sex, by T. H. Morgan, New York: Columbia 
University Press, 1913. It contains a filler description of these 
matters as well as a nearly complete bibliography. 



HEREDITY AND SEX 

of an affected man, though normal themselves, transmit the 
abnormality to half their sons. 

This exceptional type of inheritance is understandable if 
the determiners of the traits are assumed to be located in the 
X chromosomes, since the distribution of the latter parallels 
their own distribution. When a color-blind man has children 
by a normal woman, the sons are normal because their X 
chromosome comes from their mother. The daughters are also 
normal because the normal X chromosome inherited from the 
mother dominates the defective X chromosome inherited 
from the father, but these daughters will have defective sons 
whenever those sons get their X heritage from a defective 
egg, because sons are dependent entirely on the mother for 
their X heritage. 

A similar type of crisscross, sex-linked heredity naturally 
ought to be found, and is found, in birds, where the female is 
the controller of sex. The best known case is a dominant 
character, barred feathers, such as are found in the Plymouth 
Rock. When a Barred-Rock cock is mated with a hen of a 
black breed, the offspring of both sexes are barred ; but these 
in turn produce progeny in which half of the hens are black, 
though all the cocks are barred. The reverse cross, a black 
cock mated with a Barred-Rock hen, gives barred cocks and 
black hens, and these when mated together produce barred 
individuals and black individuals of both sexes in equal num- 
bers. Anyone ought to be able to work out the way the in- 
heritance goes after the explanations given above. Crisscross 
inheritance is an easier puzzle than one of crisscross words. 

In all the higher animals which have thus far been in- 
vestigated, sex appears to be determined at fertilization by 
the particular chromosome inheritance received. Yet it is 
well to be cautious. There are still a great many unsolved 
problems connected with the subject. Sex, in fact, is a precari- 
ous proposition; just when one thinks it is mastered, he 
finds that he is mistaken, as St. Anthony discovered long ago. 

In man the sex ratio varies from 104 to 108 males for 



2l8 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

every 100 females. We would like to know why, but as yet 
we have not the slightest inkling of the truth. Under the 
chromosome theory there ought to be an equal number of 
male-producing and of female-producing sperms, and if there 
is no differential viability of fertilizing power between them, 
the sex ratio ought to be equality. But one must face the 
facts, and the truth is that there is an excess of males born 
alive among the people of every race. And if premature births 
only are considered, this excess is sometimes as high as 50 
per cent. 

Possibly equal numbers of each sex are produced at 
fertilization, and a considerable proportion of the females 
eliminated at early stages of gestation because they find this 
particular portion of the life cycle difficult to pass. Such an 
assumption would account for the disproportionate number 
of males at later ages, and also, from the early elimination 
of feeble females, for the fact that the so-called weaker sex 
is really the stronger sex and has a lower death rate from 
birth to old age. The theory is submitted here because it is 
worth investigating, and it is thought that some of our readers 
may possess the necessary data to confirm or to refute it. 

Slight differences in the sex ratio which can be accounted 
for by selective elimination of the weaker sex do not disturb 
the view of sex-determination through the chromosomes very 
seriously, but what is one to say of the experiments of 
Richard Hertwig 7 and Miss Helen King? 8 Hertwig obtained 
as high as 100 per cent of male frogs when he delayed the 
fertilization of frogs' eggs until they were overripe and had 
taken up large quantities of water. Conversely, Miss King 
obtained 80 per cent of females, with a mortality of only 6 
per cent, by lowering the water content of the eggs of toads. 

7 R. Hertwig, "Uber den derzeiti^en Stand des Sexualitats prob- 
lems ncbst einigen Untersuchungen." Biol. Centr. 32, 1912. 

8 H. D. King. "Studies on Sex-Determination in Amphibians." 
V. Jour. Ex p. Zool. t 12, 1912. 



HEREDITY AND SEX 2IQ 

Miss King 9 also obtained some very strange results in an 
experiment with a strain of white rats in which the sex ratio 
is normally 105 males to 100 females. By selection, a male- 
producing strain was originated in which the sex ratio was 
122 males to 100 females. Selection in the reverse direction, 
on the other hand, resulted in a strain of female-producers 
in which the sex ratio was only 82 males to 100 females. 

Not less confusing are the experiments of Riddle with 
pigeons and of Goldschmidt 10 with the gypsy moth. In 
pigeons more or less complete sex reversal apparently can 
be forced by changing the environmental conditions after 
fertilization has taken place and development begun. Gold- 
schmidt has even found strong-male and weak-male, and 
strong-female and weak-female races of the gypsy moth, in 
which the various possible matings give different results in 
both the primary and the secondary sexual characters of the 
progeny. 

Still more of an enigma is the remarkable case of sex re- 
versal reported by Crew X1 in Scotland. It is an authentic 
case of "functional" sex change occurring in poultry. The 
word functional should be emphasized because numerous 
instances of superficial changes in the sex organs have been 
found among human beings, but in no case has an individual 
become both a father and a mother. The facts are as follows: 
A hen which had laid eggs and hatched chicks from them 
later took on the appearance and behavior of a cock. Mated 
with a hen, the erstwhile mother became the father of two 
chicks, one a male, the other a female. A post-mortem ex- 
amination showed that the ovary had been destroyed by a 
tumor and male organs had developed. 

H. D. King, "The Sex-Ratio in Hybrid Rats," Biol. Bull., 21, 
1911. 

10 The points of view of Riddle and of Goldschmidt are given in 
The Mechanism and Physiology of Sex Determination by R. Gold- 
schmidt, translated by W. J. Pakin. London: Methuen, 1923. 

11 F. A. E. Crew. " Complete Sex-Transformation in the Domestic 
Fowl." Jour. Heredity, 14:361, 362, 



220 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

These data are somewhat contradictory, it is true. But 
one must expect contradictions. Life is complex. What we 
must hold fast is that the two sexual states, maleness and 
femaleness, are not mutually exclusive. They are quantitative 
characters like many others with which the geneticist has to 
deal. The germ-cells in numerous species have become male- 
determiners and female-determiners respectively in the sense 
that they have inherited qualities which in ordinary circum- 
stances hold the balance of power in the control of sex. Gen- 
erally speaking, they cast the deciding vote; but there may 
be a recount. 

Perhaps an illustration will make our meaning plainer. 
One may think of men or of women as possessing attributes 
both of maleness and of femaleness. The controlling power 
which makes one actually a man and the other actually a 
woman is inherited constitution. The possessor of one X 
chromosome is a man, the possessor of two X chromosomes 
is a woman. And this chromosome distribution has so far 
shifted the balance of conditions that no environmental 
changes can reverse it. In some of the lower animals the bal- 
ance of the sex complex is not shifted thus far by the par- 
ticular inheritance received. Under extraordinary circum- 
stances, conditions may be such that the sex is really 
changed. 

In these lower forms where the influence of external condi- 
tions is relatively great, there is still a considerable possi- 
bility that man may be able to control sex at will. The 
possibility is slight, but the hope is there. That man will 
ever be able to control the sex of his own offspring is im- 
probable. The possibility remains, like that of making gold, 
but the chances weigh heavily against it. And to tell the 
truth, the first is about as undesirable as the second. The 
one would result in a terrible economic muddle, the other 
would bring about a social chaos. 

There is, as we have seen, a plethora of evidence that the 
principal determinant of the characters of all animals and 



HEREDITY AND SEX 221 

plants which reproduce sexually is the chromatin. Because 
chromatin is distributed in a particular manner at reproduc- 
tion, inheritance is what it is. In other words, the ordinary 
mechanism of heredity is furnished by sex. And now, para- 
doxically enough, sexuality is found to furnish the means 
by which the two sexes inherit their differences. The evidence 
which has been cited is only a fragmentary sample. Direct 
experimental proof has been made on dozens and dozens 
of species. Is there, then, good reason for doubting Thomases 
to be skeptical of the philosophy of genetics and to equivocate 
concerning its application to human affairs? 

Do these genetic ideas of sex throw any light on the ever- 
popular question as to the relative capacity of man and 
woman? It seems to me that they do. The heritage of the 
female is precisely that of the male in 46 of the 48 packets 
of genes which each possesses. The distinction between them 
is that the female possesses two X chromosomes, while the 
male possesses one X and one F. It is possible that the extra 
X does something more than make its possessor a female, 
but this is not genetically probable, for usually one member 
of a pair of chromosomes functions as well as, and similar to, 
both members of the pair. It is likewise possible that the Y 
chromosome possesses other functions than that of giving 
maleness to its possessor, but no such additional duties have 
been demonstrated except in the case of certain fishes. 

Man and woman are different. Yes. Havelock Ellis 12 has 
demonstrated that the differences in the sex glands and the 
hormones they release produce radical alterations of the whole 
structure. Woman is different from man from the crown of 
her head to the soles of her feet, but presumably all of these 
distinguishing marks are merely sex. There is no crucial evi- 
dence that either is more capable than the other in logical 
thinking or capacity of making intelligent adjustments in 
life. It would be odd if there were a psychological differentia- 

12 Havelock Ellis, Man and Woman. New York: Charles Scribner's 
Sons, 5th ed., 1914. 



222 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

tion other than one useful in the matter of reproduction and 
care of the young, for Nature is not usually careless and 
purposeless. 

What then are we to make of the historical fact that men 
have done more creative work than women? How are we to 
interpret the undeniable truth that men have furnished the 
great constructive geniuses? Emotionally, women are great; 
witness the long roll of celebrated actresses ending with Bern- 
hardt and Duse. But there are no philosophers among women. 
And in science and the arts there are few names to conjure 
with. The work of Madame Curie is not to be compared with 
that of Rutherford, though their special interests have been 
the same. Women inventors are rare, and are distinctly below 
the highest grade. Madame Le Brun and Rosa Bonheur make 
a sorry showing beside Rembrandt and Velasquez. Even the 
great designers of women 's clothes have been men, as has 
often been noted with great glee by militant males. 

I cannot persuade myself that these specific data are de- 
cisive. It may be that women labor under a physiological 
handicap which makes it more difficult for them to do sus- 
tained constructive work of the highest type. Their part in 
weaving the thread of life is overheavy. But it is doubtful 
whether woman 's specialization as potential mother or that 
considerable part of her life devoted to actual motherhood 
means any more than a comparative lack of opportunity for 
other pursuits. The tyranny of old folkways has kept her 
out of competition with men. If we could make a true com- 
parison of the eminence attained by men and women in pro- 
portion to their opportunities, the story might be quite dif- 
ferent. Think of the millions of men entering the crafts, the 
tens of thousands entering the arts, the thousands entering 
the sciences. How many of them attain prominence? Nat- 
urally, very few. Similarly estimated, particularly if relative 
opportunity for training is given due weight, it is possible that 
women would show a record of past greatness in as high 
proportions as have men. 



HEREDITY AND SEX 223 

In the future, men had best look to their laurels. Customs 
are changing. Opportunities are increasing. More and more 
women are entering the world arena. And Terman's studies 1S 
appear to show that they are just as capable as their brothers. 

13 L. M. Terman et al., Studies of Genius, I. Mental and Physical 
Traits of a Thousand Gifted Children. Calif.: Stanford University 
Press, 1925. 



EUGENICS 4 
By Franz Boas 

THE possibility of raising the standards of human physique 
and mentality by judicious means has been preached for 
years by the apostles of eugenics, and has taken hold of the 
public mind to such an extent that eugenic measures have 
found a place on the statute books of a number of states, 
and that the public conscience disapproves of marriages that 
are thought bound to produce unhealthy offspring. 

The thought that it may be possible by these means to 
eliminate suffering and to strive for higher ideals is a beau- 
tiful one, and makes a strong appeal to those who have at 
heart the advance of humanity. 

Our experiences in stock and plant breeding have shown 
that it is feasible, by appropriate selection, to change a breed 
in almost any direction that we may choose: in size, form, 
color. Even physiological functions may be modified. Fertility 
may be increased, speed of movement improved, the sensi- 
tiveness of sense organs modified, and mental traits may be 
turned in special directions. It is, therefore, more than 
probable that similar results might be obtained in man by 
careful mating of appropriately selected individuals pro- 
vided that man allowed himself to be selected in the same 
manner as we select animals. We have also the right to as- 
sume that, by preventing the propagation of mentally or 
physically inferior strains, the gross average standing of a 
population may be raised. 

Although these methods sound attractive, there are serious 
limitations to their applicability. Eugenic selection can affect 

1 From Anthropology and Modern Life. New York: W. W. Norton 
& Company, 1928. 

224 



EUGENICS 225 

only hereditary features. If an individual possesses a de- 
sirable quality the development of which is wholly due to 
environmental causes, and that will not be repeated in the 
descendants, its selection will have no influence upon the 
following generations. It is, therefore, of fundamental im- 
portance to know what is hereditary and what not. Features, 
and color of eyes, hair and skin, are more or less rigidly 
hereditary; in other words, in these respects children resemble 
organically their parents, no matter in what environment 
they may have been brought up. In other cases, however, the 
determining influence of heredity is not clear. We know that 
stature depends upon hereditary causes, but that it is also 
greatly influenced by environmental conditions prevailing 
during the period of growth. Rapidity of development is no 
less influenced by these two causes, and in general the more 
subject an anatomical or physiological trait to the influence 
of environment the less definitely can we speak of a con- 
trolling influence of heredity, and the less are we justified 
in claiming that nature, not nurture, is the deciding element. 

It would seem, therefore, that the first duty of the eugenist 
should be to determine empirically and without bias what 
features are hereditary and what not. 

Unfortunately this has not been the method pursued ; but 
the battle cry of the eugenists, "Nature not nurture," has 
been raised to the rank of a dogma, and the environmental 
conditions that make and unmake man, physically and men- 
tally, have been relegated to the background. 

It is easy to see that in many cases environmental causes 
may convey the erroneous impression of hereditary phenom- 
ena. Poor people develop slowly and remain short of stature 
as compared to wealthy people. We find, therefore, in a poor 
area apparently a low hereditary stature, that, however, 
would change if the economic life of the people were changed. 
We find proportions of the body determined by occupations, 
and apparently transmitted from father to son, provided both 
father and son follow the same occupation. The more far- 



226 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

reaching the environmental influences are that act upon 
successive generations the more readily will a false impres- 
sion of heredity be given. 

Here we reach a parting of the ways of the biological 
eugenist and the student of human society. Most modern 
biologists are so entirely dominated by the notion that func- 
tion depends upon form that they seek for an anatomical 
basis for all differences of function. The stress laid upon the 
relation between anatomical form or constitution and patho- 
logical conditions of the most x varied character are an expres- 
sion of this tendency. Whenever the anatomical and patho- 
logical conditions are actually physiologically interdependent 
such relations are found. In other cases, as, for instance, in 
the relation of anatomical form and mental disturbances, the 
relation may be quite remote. This is still more the case 
when a relation between social phenomena and bodily form 
is sought. Many biologists are inclined to assume that higher 
civilization is due to a higher type ; that better social health 
depends solely upon a better hereditary stock ; that national 
characteristics are determined by the bodily forms repre- 
sented in the nation. 

The anthropologist is convinced that many different an- 
atomical forms can be adapted to the same social functions; 
and he ascribes greater weight to these and believes that 
in many cases differences of form may be due to adaptations 
to different functions. He believes that different types of man 
may reach the same civilization, that better health may be 
produced by better bringing up of any of the existing types 
of man. 

The anatomical differences to which the biologist reduces 
social phenomena are hereditary; the environmental causes 
which the anthropologist sees reflected in human form are 
individually acquired, and not transmitted by heredity. 

In view of what has been said before it will suffice to point 
out a very few examples. 

Sameness of language is acquired under the same linguistic 



EUGENICS 227 

environment by members of the most diverse human types ; 
the same kinds of foods are selected from among the products 
of nature by people belonging to the same cultural area; 
similarity of movements is required in industrial pursuits; 
the habits of sedentary or nomadic life do not depend upon 
race but' upon occupation. All of these are distributed without 
any reference to physical type, and give ample evidence of 
the lack of relation between social habits and racial position. 
The serious demand must be made that eugenists cease 
to look at the forms, functions, and activities of man from 
the dogmatic point of view according to which each feature 
is assumed to be hereditary, but that they begin to examine 
them from a more critical point of view, requiring that in 
each and every case the hereditary character of a trait must 
be established before it can be assumed to exist. 

The question at issue is well illustrated by the extended 
statistics of cacogenics, of the histories of defective families. 
Setting aside for a moment cases of hereditary pathological 
conditions, we find that alcoholism and criminality are par- 
ticularly ascribed to hereditary causes. When we study the 
family histories in question, we can see often that if the in- 
dividuals had been protected by favorable home surround- 
ings and by possession of adequate means of support against 
the abuse of alcohol or other drugs as well as against crimi- 
nality, many of them would have been no more likely to fall 
victims to their alleged hereditary tendencies than many a 
weakling who is brought up under favorable circumstances. 
If they had resisted the temptations of their environment 
they would have been entitled to be classed as moral heroes. 
The scales applied to the criminal family and to the well- 
to-do are clearly quite distinct; and, so far as heredity is 
concerned, not much more follows from the collected data 
of social deficiencies than would follow from the fact that in 
an agricultural community the occupation of farmers descends 
from father to son. 

Whether or not constitutional debility based on hereditary 



228 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

causes may also be proved in these cases is a question by 
itself that deserves attention. It remains to be proved in 
how far it exists, and furthermore it cannot be assumed with- 
out proof that the elimination of the descendants of delin- 
quents would free us of all those who possess equal constitu- 
tional debility. Of these matters more anon. 

It is an observed fact that the most diverse types of man 
may adapt themselves to the same forms of life and, unless 
the contrary can be proved, we must assume that all complex 
activities are socially determined, not hereditary; that a 
change in social conditions will change the whole character 
of social activities without influencing in the least the 
hereditary characteristics of the group of individuals con- 
cerned. Therefore, when the attempt is made to prove that 
defects or points of excellence are hereditary, it is essential 
that all possibility of a purely environmentally or socially 
determined repetition of ancestral traits be excluded. 

If this rigidity of proof is insisted on it will appear that 
many of the data on which the theory of eugenics is based 
are unsatisfactory, and that much greater care must be ex- 
erted than finds favor with the enthusiastic adherents of 
eugenic theories. 

All this does not contradict the hereditary transmission of 
individual physical and mental characteristics, or the pos- 
sibility of segregating, by proper selection from among the 
large series of varying individual forms that occur among 
all types of people, strains that have admirable qualities, and 
of suppressing others that are not so favored. 

It is claimed that the practical application has become a 
necessity because among all civilized nations there is a de- 
cided tendency to general degeneration. I do not believe that 
this assertion has been adequately proved. In modern society 
the conditions of life have become markedly varied as com- 
pared with those of former periods. While some groups live 
under most favorable conditions that require active use of 
body and mind, others live in abject poverty, and their activi- 



EUGENICS 229 

ties have more than ever before been degraded to those of 
machines. At the same time, human activities are much more 
varied than formerly. It is, therefore, quite intelligible that 
the functional activities of each nation must ^how an in- 
creased degree of differentiation, a higher degree of variabil- 
ity. The general average of the mental and physical types of 
the people may remain the same, still there will be a larger 
number now than formerly who fall below a certain given 
low standard, while there will also be more who exceed a 
given high standard. The number of defectives can be counted 
by statistics of poor relief, delinquency and insanity, but 
there is no way of determining the increase of those in' 
dividuals who are raised above the norm of a higher standard. 
Therefore they escape our notice. It may very well be that 
the number of defectives increases, without, however, in- 
fluencing the value of a population as a whole, because it is 
merely an expression of an increased degree of variability. 

Furthermore, arbitrarily selected, absolute standards do 
not retain their significance. Even if no change in the abso- 
lute standard should be made, the degree of physical and 
mental energy required under modern conditions to keep 
one's self above a certain minimum of achievement is higher 
than formerly. This is due to the greater complexity of our 
life and to the increasing number of competing individuals. 
When the general level of achievement is raised, greater 
capacity is required to attain a high degree of prominence 
than was needed in earlier periods of our history. A mentally 
defective person may be able to hold his own in a simple 
farming community and unable to do so in city life. The 
claim that we have to contend against national degeneracy 
must, therefore, be better substantiated than it is now. 

This problem is further complicated by the advances of 
public hygiene, which have lowered infant mortality, and have 
changed the composition of the population, in so far as many 
who would have succumbed to deleterious conditions in early 



230 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

years enter into the adult population and have an influence 
upon the general distribution of vitality. 

There is still another important aspect of eugenics that 
should make us pause before we accept this new ambitious 
theory as a panacea for human ills. The radical eugenist treats 
the problem of procreation from a purely rationalistic point 
of view, and assumes that the ideal of human development 
lies in the complete rationalization of human life. As a matter 
of fact, the conclusions to be drawn from the study of the 
customs and habits of mankind show that such an ideal is 
unattainable, and more particularly that the emotions clus- 
tering about procreation belong to those that are most deeply 
seated, and that are ineradicable. 

Here again the anthropologist and the biologist are at 
odds. The natural sciences do not recognize in their scheme 
a valuation of the phenomena of nature, nor do they count 
emotions as moving forces ; they endeavor to reduce all hap- 
penings to the actions of physical causes. Reason alone reigns 
in their domain. Therefore the scientist likes to look at mental 
life from the same rational standpoint, and sees as the goal 
of human development an era of reason, as opposed to the 
former periods of unhealthy fantastic emotion. 

The anthropologist, on the other hand, cannot acknowl- 
edge such a complete domination of emotion by reason. He 
rather sees the steady advance of the rational knowledge 
of mankind, which is a source of satisfaction to him no less 
than to the biologist; but he sees also that mankind does 
not put this knowledge to purely reasonable use, but that 
its actions are swayed by emotions no less now than in for- 
mer times, although in many respects, unless the passions 
are excited, the increase of knowledge limits the extreme 
forms of unreasonable emotional activities. Religion and 
political life, and our everyday habits, present endless proofs 
of the fact that our actions are the results of emotional 
preferences, that conform in a general way to our rational 
knowledge, but which are not determined by reason; that 



EUGENICS 231 

we rather try to justify our choice of action by reason than 
have our actions dictated by reason. 

It is, therefore, exceedingly unlikely that a rational con- 
trol of one of the strongest passions of man could ever 
succeed. If even in matters of minor importance evasion of 
the law is of common occurrence, this would be infinitely 
more common in questions that touch our inner life so deeply. 
The repugnance against eugenic legislation is based on this 
feeling. 

It cannot be doubted that the enforcement of eugenic 
legislation would have a far-reaching effect upon social life, 
and that it would tend to raise the standard of certain 
selected hereditary strains. It is, however, an open question 
what would happen to the selected strains owing to the 
changed social ideal; and it is inexcusable to refuse to con- 
sider those fundamental changes that would certainly be 
connected with eugenic practice, and to confine ourselves to 
the biological effect that may be wrought, for in the great 
mass of a healthy population the biological mechanism alone 
does not control social activities. They are rather subject 
to social stimuli. 

Although we are ignorant of the results of a rigid applica- 
tion of eugenics, a few of its results may be foretold with 
great certainty. 

The eugenist who tries to do more than to eliminate the 
unfit will first of all be called upon to answer the question 
what strains are the best to cultivate. If it is a question of 
breeding chickens or Indian corn, we know what we want. 
We desire many eggs of heavy weight, or a large yield of 
good corn. But what do we want in man? Is it physical ex- 
cellence, mental ability, creative power, or artistic genius? 
We must select certain ideals that we want to raise. Con- 
sidering then the fundamental differences in ideals of dis- 
tinct types of civilization, have we a right to give to our 
modern ideals the stamp of finality, and suppress what does 
not fit into our life? There is little doubt that we ; at the 



SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

present time, give much less weight to beauty than to logic. 
Shall we then try to raise a generation of logical thinkers, 
suppress those whose emotional life is vigorous, and try to 
bring it about that reason shall reign supreme, and that 
human activities shall be performed with clocklike precision? 
The precise cultural forms that would develop cannot be 
foretold, because they are culturally, not biologically, de- 
termined; but there is little doubt that within certain limits 
tfy^ intensity of emotional life, regardless of its form, and 
the vigor of logical thought, regardless of its content,^- 
could be increased or decreased by organic selection. Such a 
deliberate choice of qualities which would modify the char- 
acter of nations implies an overestimation of the standards 
that we have reached, which to my mind appears intolerable. 
Personally the logical thinker may be most congenial to me, 
nevertheless I respect the sacred ideal of the dreamer who 
lives in a world of musical tones, and whose creative power 
is to me a marvel that surpasses understanding. 

Without a selection of standards, eugenic practice is im- 
possible; but if we read the history of mankind aright, we 
ought to hesitate before we try to set our standards for all 
time to come, for they are only one phase in the development 
of mankind. 

This consideration applies only to our right to apply crea- 
tive eugenic principles, not to the question whether practical 
results by eugenic selection can be attained. I have pointed 
out before how much in this respect is still hypothetical, or 
at least of doubtful value, because the social factors out- 
weigh the biological ones. 

At the present time the idea of creating the best human 
types by selective mating is hardly a practical one. It dwells 
only as a desirable ideal in the minds of some enthusiasts. 

The immediate application of eugenics is rather concerned 
in eliminating strains that are a burden to the nation or to 
themselves, and in raising the standard of humanity by the 
suppression of the progeny of the defective classes. I am 



EUGENICS 233 

doubtful whether eugenics alone will have material results 
in this direction, for, in view of the fundamental influence 
of environmental causes, that I set forth before, it is per- 
fectly safe to say that no amount of eugenic selection will 
overcome those social conditions that have raised a poverty- 
and disease-stricken proletariat, which will be reborn from 
even the best stock, so long as the social conditions persist 
that remorselessly push human beings into helpless and hope- 
less misery. The effect would probably be to push new groups 
of individuals into the deadly environment where they would 
take the place of the eliminated defectives. Whether they 
would breed new generations of defectives may be an open 
question. The continued presence of defectives would be a 
certainty. Eugenics alone cannot solve the problem. It re- 
quires much more an amelioration of the social conditions 
of the poor which would also raise many of the apparently 
defective to higher levels. 

The present state of our knowledge of heredity permits us 
to say that certain pathological conditions are hereditary and 
that apparently healthy parents who belong to defective 
strains are very likely to have among their descendants de- 
fective individuals. We may even predict for a number of 
such cases how many among the descendants will be normal 
and how many defective. The eugenist must decide whether 
he wants to suppress all the normal individuals in these 
families in order to avoid the development of the defectives, 
or whether he is willing to carry the defectives along, per- 
haps as a burden to society, to their relatives and in many 
cases even to themselves, for the sake of the healthy chil- 
dren of such families. This question cannot be decided from 
a scientific point of view. The answer depends upon ethical 
and social standards. Many defective families have produced 
individuals who have given us the greatest treasures our 
civilization possesses, Eugenists might have prevented Bee* 
thoven's father from having children. Would they willingly 
take the responsibility of having mankind deprived of the 



234 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

genius of Beethoven? Another aspect of the problem is of 
much more vit^l importance to mankind. The object of 
eugenics is to raise a better race and to do away with in- 
creasing suffering by eliminating those who are by heredity 
destined to suffer and to cause suffering. The humanitarian 
idea of the conquest of suffering, and the ideal of raising 
human efficiency to heights never before reached, make 
eugenics particularly attractive. 

I believe that the human mind and body are so constituted 
that the attainment of these ends would lead to the destruc- 
tion of society. The wish for the elimination of unnecessary 
suffering is divided by a narrow margin from the wish for 
the elimination of all suffering. 

While, humanely speaking, this may be a beautiful ideal, 
it is unattainable. The performance of the labors of mankind 
and the conflicts of duties will always be accompanied by 
suffering that must be borne, and that men must be willing 
to bear. Many of the works of sublime beauty are the precious 
fruit of mental agony: and we should be poor, indeed, if the 
willingness of man to suffer should disappear. However, if 
we cultivate this ideal, then that which was discomfort yes- 
terday will be suffering today, and the elimination of dis- 
comforts will lead to an effeminacy that must be disastrous 
to the race. 

This effect is further emphasized by the increasing demands 
for self-perfection. The more complex our civilization and the 
more extended our technical skill and our knowledge, the 
more energy is demanded for reaching the highest efficiency, 
and the less is it admissible that the working capacity of the 
individual should be diminished by suffering. We are clearly 
drifting towards that danger-line where the individual will 
no longer bear discomfort or pain for the sake of the con- 
tinuance of the race, and where our emotional life is so 
strongly repressed by the desire for self-perfection, or by 
self-indulgence, that the coming generation is sacrificed to 
the selfishness of the living. The phenomenon that char- 



EUGENICS 235 

acterized the end of antiquity, when no children were born 
to take the place of the passing generations, is being repeated 
in our times and in ever widening circles; and the more 
vigorously the eugenic ideals of the elimination of suffering 
and of self-development are held up the sooner shall we drift 
towards the destruction of the race. 

Eugenics should, therefore, not be allowed to deceive us 
into the belief that we should try to raise a race of supermen, 
nor that it should be our aim to eliminate all suffering and 
pain. The attempt to suppress those defective classes whose 
deficiencies can be proved by rigid methods to be due to 
hereditary causes, and to prevent unions that will unavoid- 
ably lead to the birth of disease-stricken progeny, is the 
proper field of eugenics. How much can be and should be 
attempted in this field depends upon the results of careful 
studies of the laws of heredity. Eugenics is not a panacea 
that will cure human ills ; it is rather a dangerous sword tha 4 * 
may turn its edge against those who rely on its strength. 



RACE CONSCIOUSNESS AND EUGENICS 1 

By Andre Siegfried 

UP to the beginning of the twentieth century, America 
believed in the theory of environment which was fashionable 
at that time, but when the Melting Pot began to overflow 
with immigrants she adopted the views of Mendel and de 
Gobineau. Their theories were popularized by brilliant 
writers who converted a large following to the thesis that, 
in the long run, heredity is the most important factor, and 
that the hierarchy of races with the Nordics in the lead is an 
established scientific fact. Eugenics, which in reality is a 
mixture of biology and politics, looked to this doctrine for 
a scientific basis on which to develop the future American 
race. This was quite in keeping with the nationalistic reaction 
that has taken place since the war. If you visit the United 
States you must not forget your Bible, but you must also 
take a treatise on eugenics. Armed with these two talismans, 
you will never get beyond your depth. 

Lothrop Stoddard 2 and Madison Grant 3 have spread 
these ideas throughout America in their widely read books. 
They have firmly implanted the theory that civilization, like 
a delicate flower, survives only as the result of continuous 
human energy; for its creative force depends on superior 
germ plasm. Fundamentally, therefore, it varies with the 
race. In our day we are no longer menaced by invasions of 
hordes of barbarians, but peaceable penetration by inferior 

1 From America Comes of Age. Harcourt, Brace and Company, 
1927. 

2 The Rising Tide of Color and The Revolt Against Civilization, 
by Lothrop Stoddard. New Vork: Charles Scribner's Sons. 

8 The Passing of the Great Race, by Madison Grant. New York: 
Charles Scribner's Sons. 

236 



RACE CONSCIOUSNESS AND EUGENICS 237 

human elements is an insidious danger that is equally formid- 
able. The backward peoples of the world are the most 
prolific, just as they are often the most vigorous physically. 
They are attracted to civilized centers by high wages and 
better living conditions, but their advent spells disaster, for 
they dislocate the established order of things and sterilize 
the original superior races. The mingling of the races is 
equally fatal, as it undermines the ethnic foundations of 
civilization and introduces a mongrel strain which leads to 
decadence. Today everyone knows that acquired characteris- 
tics cannot be handed down to posterity, and as the influence 
of environment is strictly limited, the individual cannot 
pass on more than he has actually received from his ancestors. 
The supreme importance of heredity is the great biological 
discovery of modern times. 

According to this theory, what can we expect from the 
influx of immigrants into the United States? Since 1890 they 
have been mostly of inferior races that do not amalagamate, 
and though they may have individual qualifications they also 
have definite limitations. History shows that the inferior 
races multiply on account of their vast inferiority, whereas 
the superior do not tend to perpetuate themselves. The 
aristocracy of America is thus in jeopardy, for we might 
almost say that the race is giving way to another that is 
being surreptitiously substituted for it. If we write Anglo- 
Saxon in place of "superior," and Slav, Latin, or Mediter- 
ranean instead of "inferior," without mentioning Negroes or 
Asiatics, we have the political aspect of this scientific theory, 
in fact the doctrine of the Ku Klux Klan. Once we admit that 
superiority can be transmitted only through blood, we ar- 
rive at the same conclusion as the eugenists, that the character 
of the race must be preserved by legal measures. The 
Spartans were striving for the same ends when they evolved 
the theory that the race could be improved only by eliminat- 
ing the mediocre and multiplying the best elements. It is 
interesting to note that the idea of caste which has been 



238 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

rejected by Europe appears attractive to certain Americans. 

The attitude toward natality is bound to be entirely dif- 
ferent in France and the United States. For political and 
military reasons our great ground of anxiety is a decrease in 
the total population, but this does not apply in America, 
where, according to the Malthusian doctrines inherited from 
England, an excess of population is regarded as an evil. Pub- 
lic opinion there is alarmed by the fact that in the South 
and certain parts of the West, the Anglo-Saxon stock is not 
reproducing itself, whereas the birth rate among the immi- 
grants is high. In Massachusetts, for example, the foreign- 
born woman is twice as prolific as the American-born. After 
a thorough investigation, Professors Ross and Baber dis- 
covered that in the middle class of the central states, which 
is purely American, the families of the present generation 
have decreased 38^ per cent in size as compared with the 
previous one; 13 per cent of the marriages are childless, and 
1 8 per cent have only one child. On the other hand, among 
the Czecho-Slovak immigrants only 2 .4 per cent of the homes 
are childless, 2.5 per cent among the Russians, 2.6 per cent 
among the Poles, 3.9 per cent among the Germans, and 4.9 
per cent among the Italians. 

In certain classes of Americans, reproduction seems almost 
to have ceased. Intellectuals and university graduates marry 
late and have practically no descendants. Sixty per cent of 
the women with university degrees do not marry at all; of 
those who do, 36 per cent have no children, or in other 
words, three-fifths of the most cultured women do not leave 
descendants. These figures have been published and quoted 
all over the country. Professors Ross and Baber come to the 
melancholy conclusion that the old Anglo-Saxon element is 
diminishing, not merely absolutely, but also relatively, and 
that in a century it is probable that it will only constitute 
a negligible factor in the American population. In view of 
these incontestable facts, the eugenists prophesy dire results. 
On the basis of the present ratio, 1,000 Harvard graduates, 



RACE CONSCIOUSNESS AND EUGENICS 239 

according to Dr. Davenport, will have only fifty descendants 
at the end of two centuries, whereas 1,000 Rumanians in 
Boston will have 100,000. 

These sensational deductions, so dear to the New World, 
do not take into account the changes that are operating 
among the immigrants themselves. When their standard of 
living is raised by assimilation, they also adopt the customs 
of the country as regards natality. The second generation 
still has more children than the original inhabitants, but 
the fecundity of the third and fourth differs very slightly 
from the general level of the country. All these pessinrvstic 
calculations, though they are obvious exaggerations, favor 
the foreigner as against the American, the Catholic as against 
the Protestant. The present attitude of the 100 per cent 
American, in the towns at any rate, is fatal for his race. 
When he has few children or none at all, he excuses himseli 
by saying that he cannot afford more, that there would be 
so many difficulties about housing and servants, and he 
really has to buy a car; or else his wife's professional career 
makes a family inadvisable. Also, in many cases, marriage 
comes too late in life, and the sex relation therefore is only 
secondary. The problem is not so much depopulation as 
maintaining the racial equilibrium, and the danger of the 
present race's being replaced by another. The two chief 
influences reacting on American thought are the neo-Malthu- 
sian or birth control movement on the one hand, and the 
Catholic Church which preaches unrestricted fecundity on 
the other. Morals, hygiene, and social welfare are the argu- 
ments invoked by both sides, but underneath it all lie 
political considerations; for it is this question that will 
decide the center of gravity of the nation in the future. 

As in England, the birth control propaganda has been 
conducted in the spirit of a crusade, supported chiefly by 
the intellectuals, often from among the best people, and by 
a few fanatics. It is difficult to understand why they should 
be so vehement, for after all the average ProtesUnt was 



240 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

converted long ago to voluntary birth control. Quite apart 
from theory, experience has taught them that nothing is more 
deplorable than a heavy birth rate coinciding with a heavy 
death rate, and that large families are apt to be a charge 
on the community. Anyway, the world has quite enough of 
the lowest classes already, certainly if a decent standard of 
living is to be maintained. The Malthusians accordingly con- 
centrate their efforts on the "poor whites" of the Alleghanies 
and the South, and more especially on the aliens of the first 
and second generation, who through either their own 
ignorance or the influence of their priests leave nature to 
determine the size of their families. Good or bad, the real 
meaning of the propaganda is that the inferiors have many 
children, the superiors few, to reestablish the balance by 
trying to increase the fecundity of the superiors would be 
both undesirable and hopeless, although it is possible to 
slow up the reproductive speed of the inferiors. These are the 
ideas that are taught at the special clinics of the Birth 
Control League. Their activities correspond perfectly to the 
outlook of the responsible classes who have taken it on 
themselves to care for the poor. If some humorist were to 
propose a Conference on the International Limitation of 
Births, the Americans would take up the idea in a twinkling! 
The eugenic movement, which was originated in England 
by Francis Galton, has become quite important in the United 
States during the past twenty years. After making due allow- 
ance for the exaggeration of the enthusiasts, we must admit 
that it expresses the American line of thought exactly, and 
therefore we should not be astonished if a new code of racial 
ethics and reproduction laws should be evolved from it. The 
eugenist lays stress on the importance of heredity in the 
development of the individual. He maintains that nothing 
can replace inborn qualities, and that it is futile to try to 
develop any particular traits if the character lacks the 
initial germ. Hence, if we wish to improve the race, we 
must determine which individuals should be allowed to re- 



RACE CONSCIOUSNESS AND EUGENICS 241 

produce. There is thus to be a rational selection based on 
biology and not on individual sentiment, for the matter is 
of too great consequence to be left to the caprices of ir- 
responsible people. The program is to consist of medical, 
legal, and social measures designed to bring about an increase 
in the number of children from the superior grades of society, 
a decrease in the number from the inferior grades, and an 
absolute cessation from those below a certain mental and 
physical level. 

The effect of such a movement is enormous. It means 
creating a new eugenic conscience and involves a code of 
morals based on reproduction, which is practically non- 
existent at present. The eugenists go even further and pro- 
pose to legislate to reduce degeneracy and so deliberately 
construct a new race. The Americans love the classical Greek 
ideals, and in their sanctimonious way they are always ready 
to accept a theory if they think it is scientific. In fairness we 
must add that like their British cousins, thoughtful Ameri- 
cans possess a strong racial sense. For example, look at the 
way they keep the Negroes and Asiatics in their place, and 
even the Portuguese and Mediterraneans, if they suspect 
them of a touch of the tar-brush. For over a generation the 
idea has been growing among them that a superior race is 
under a moral obligation to maintain its ascendancy and 
produce offspring that are healthy and free from doubtful 
strains. This is not exactly a religious ideal, but the Protestant 
churches encourage it; for they consider themselves rather 
the elite, and extol anything that is considered pure. Neither 
is it entirely a matter of nationalism, for an American looks 
on reproduction from much the same angle as a breeder of 
dogs. 

The European individualist resents having his most inti- 
mate relations organized for the good of the community, 
but the reformers of the New World hope to make short 
work of "passion," for they have made such magnificent 
progress that they are beginning to believe they can accom^ 



242 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

plish everything. Efficiency has such prestige on the Ameri- 
can side of the Atlantic that all objections are set aside, and 
even the most extreme measures are approved in its name. 
Eugenics, in fact, is part of what in the United States is 
called "service." 

A whole system of new legislation is being developed on 
the subject. Many of the measures no doubt are not eugenic, 
but simply social hygiene, such as for example the law in 
Wisconsin that makes pre-nuptial examination obligatory. 
Other laws are eugenic in their effect, although they were 
originally adopted for very different reasons. When the law 
of 1911 in Nevada orders a murderer to be sterilized as a 
punishment it is simply a matter of repression, but it is pure 
and simple eugenics when similar laws are applied either to 
favor the reproduction of the better elements or to prevent 
it among the feeble-minded. Sterilizing to improve the race 
is like restricting immigration to exclude certain races. Both 
are distinctly eugenic. 

Eugenic sterilization aims to destroy the reproductive 
capacity of the individual by means of certain surgical opera- 
tions which are carried out in accordance with the law, and 
which are used principally in cases of degeneracy such as 
lunatics and criminals. "Vasectomy" and "salpingectomy," 
as these operations are termed, are not the same as castra- 
tion; for the patient can still have sexual intercourse, al- 
though he cannot produce children. Since 1907, twenty-three 
states have passed laws of this nature, and they were still 
being applied in 1926 in nineteen 4 of them. 

A certain amount of confusion as to the exact objective is 
apparent in the declarations of various legislatures. In Nevada 
the intention was only to punish criminals guilty of raping 
girls of less than six years of age. Such vengeance against 

4 California, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, 
Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North 
Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wis- 
consin. In four other states, Indiana, Nevada, New Jersey, and New 
Vork, the laws have either been declared unconstitutional or repealed. 



RACE CONSCIOUSNESS AND EUGENICS 243 

sex is undoubtedly puritanical, but when people came for- 
ward voluntarily to be sterilized it was decided that it was 
not always a punishment; and the courts ruled the law un- 
constitutional. On the other hand, the operation was con- 
sidered legal when the aim was the improvement of the race 
rather than punishment. The legislation actually in force at 
the present time comes under this category, as it is applied 
to idiots, incurable degenerates of all kinds who are not 
necessarily shut up in asylums, second offenders in cases of 
certain crimes, and the irresponsible and vicious who, if 
given their liberty, would probably procreate undesirables. 
The ambition of the eugenists reaches still further. When 
the diagnosis of depravity has been finally perfected, they 
hope by legal sterilization to eliminate not only idiots and 
degenerates, but also drunkards, tubercular persons, syphi- 
litics, epileptics, and even the blind, the deaf, hunchbacks, 
and in a general way all potential parents of inadequate off- 
spring. As in the case of vaccination, the individual will be 
forced to submit for the welfare of the community. But is 
such a program legal? Does it not violate the rights of the 
individual as laid down in the Constitution? In the states 
where such legislation has been confirmed as constitutional 
by the courts, it has been decided that the decision of a 
criminal court or of a committee of doctors from an asylum 
or a hospital is sufficient guarantee that the operation is 
advisable. In Indiana, Nevada, New Jersey, and New York, 
however, these laws have been declared unconstitutional, 
because they do not grant to every citizen the legal recourse 
laid down in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Federal 
Constitution. The controversy goes back to fundamentals, 
for if a state were to assume the right to compel the in- 
dividual arbitrarily, it would mean the beginning of a new 
epoch in human civilization. 

We are far from this, however, for legal sterilization is 
still very restricted. Up to July i, 1925, there had been alto- 
gether 6,244 operations, of which 4,636 were in California, 



244 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

355 in Kansas, 313 in Oregon, and 262 in Nebraska. We must 
not overlook the fact that in future the rights of the in- 
dividual will be protected less by the text of the law than by 
the interpretation of judges who are apt to be sensitive to 
the pressure of public opinion. If we inquire into what the 
public thinks of such extreme ideas, we discover that there 
has never been any popular demand for them. In order to 
vote a eugenic law, it is generally sufficient for it to be taken 
up by a few individuals, such as the director of the Board 
of Health, a prominent surgeon, and some university profes- 
sors. The text is drawn by this handful of experts and is then 
quietly passed by the local legislature, always provided, of 
course, no organized opposition is stirred up. Hostility to such 
laws has generally come from the Catholic clergy, who main- 
tain that the community has no right to prevent the birth 
of a human being. Doctors also have protested occasionally, 
and governors have even opposed their veto; but generally 
the public has not been aroused. The specialists tell them that 
the measure is for the welfare of the community, and they 
remind the taxpayers what it costs the budget to care for 
the scum of humanity. In any case, as the Americans are 
imbued with the spirit of progress, they are quite willing to 
vote a new law even if they never apply it. 

In spite of these reservations, the eugenic movement is 
typical of present-day America, for it indicates a keen, 
though not necessarily intelligent, preoccupation with the 
future of the race. Against such considerations the rights of 
the individual are powerless, for by a sort of mysticism 
America considers the needs of the community supreme. 
Ever since Plato's Republic, this collective spirit has lain 
dormant, or at best has been maintained by a few dreamers. 
In the hands of a people who are conscious of their su- 
periority and are ready to sterilize remorselessly Negroes 
and Asiatics, or in fact any inferior races, eugenics may 
eventually relegate the "sacred rights of man" to the limbo 
of half-forgotten achievements. 



VI 
THE PROBLEM OF BIRTH CONTROL 



ARE TEN TOO MANY? 1 

By Marjorie Wells 

I SUPPOSE I am old-fashioned. I am quite sure many of 
my friends and neighbors think so, while some of them do 
not stop at so kindly and sympathetic a judgment. I am 
aware sometimes of their pity, condescension and amusement, 
and even of contempt and a veiled antagonism. 

The reason is that I have a large family, stretching already 
as far as the eye can reach and with the end not yet in 
sight. In an age when two or three children are considered 
the civilized and respectable achievement, I have ten to date 
and am still unchastened and unrepentant. I am even mildly 
ostentatious about it, and find a reprehensible satisfaction 
in projecting my oversized family like a bombshell into 
polite society, where it is variously greeted with congratula- 
tion, consternation, interrogation or condemnation. The 
friendlier reactions concede that this is indeed an old- 
fashioned family, supposedly endowed with indefinite but 
admirable old-fashioned virtues and advantages. But I am 
aware of other attitudes beneath the polite surprise or careful 
congratulations of casual conversation. There are those who 
clearly count me as no better than a deluded female, un- 
kindly outlawed from the pleasures and privileges of modern 
life by an unfortunate biological habit. There are some who 
would weep for me and with me, if I gave them but half a 
chance. There are others who probably think me a scab and 
blackleg, traitor and backslider, in these days of feminine 
emancipation. 

I have no intention of apologizing for my family. I have 
never done so nor tried to keep it a secret, which would in 

iprom the North American Review, March, 1929. 

247 



248 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

fact be difficult. I am, indeed, candidly and brazenly proud 
of it. A large family is liable to have that effect upon its 
perpetrator and proprietor. All ordinary parents are publicly 
proud of two children or even three. Most parents become a 
little reticent about five or six. But when the score mounts 
up to nine or ten, parental pride gets a second wind. There 
is something monumental about such a family, and it is ask- 
ing too much of human nature to expect its parents to keep 
it entirely to themselves. 

But I sometimes feel like speaking out against the under- 
tones of unpleasantness which often answer my parental 
pride. Especially I resent the insinuation that I am some- 
how related to the old lady who lived in a shoe, who had so 
many children because she didn't know what to do. In this 
ag of grace and gossip, ignorance must keep company with 
stupidity in order to preserve itself entire. There is a clinical 
candor about our reading, our conversation, and even the 
advertising in the most respectable of our family magazines, 
which makes it difficult to retain the innocence of ignorance 
unless one is firmly determined upon it. Ordinary curiosity 
has been enough to introduce me to Dr. Marie Stopes and 
all her works, and the name .of Margaret Sanger is not as 
unfamiliar to me as might be supposed. I am, in fact, rea- 
sonably sure that I know as much about keeping the stork 
from the door as do most of my friendly and unfriendly 
critics, and that I know vastly more about practical biology 
than most of these young modernists who regard me with 
such a pitying and patronizing eye. 

So in the natural course of events I come upon Mrs. 
Sanger's latest book, Motherhood in Bondage, and am 
thereby much tried and exercised. It is a tragic and 
terrible book. It is made up principally of letters 
hundreds of them from women and some few men 
overburdened with the bitternesses of too much parent- 
hood. It is a grim collection of hard luck stories, every one 
of them outlining a human tragedy. It is a compilation of 



ARE TEN TOO MANY? 249 

case records in marital misery, full of pain and poverty and 
protest against the blind inhumanity of natural law. Its 
purpose is clear, even though it is published in a country 
where there are still some things which must not be talked 
about. The letters are chosen and grouped to prove that 
families should be made to measure and not left to luck 
or the lack of it. It is overpowering in its picture of human 
misery and entirely sincere in its conviction that something 
should be done about it, but its specific plea is for public 
approval and dissemination of a practical doctrine of birth 
control. 

I am really not much interested in this particular ques- 
tion. It seems likely that the curse of Anthony Comstock 
might well be lifted in this age of reason, but it also seems 
likely that a certain amount of damage might result from too 
much eating of the tree of knowledge. It strikes me as a 
delicate problem, as delicate as some of those which every 
parent knows who tries to bring youngsters safely through 
adolescence. As I have suggested above, the vast majority 
of parents have access to all the knowledge there is on this 
subject, and the fact that it is sometimes a little difficult to 
get at is probably a moral safeguard rather than a national 
calamity. Knowledge is an excellent thing, but it won't cure 
all our personal or social diseases. It never has. And it is 
often, much too often, turned to evil account. 

But my complaint against Mrs. Sanger's book is that it 
lacks a certain letter. I have never felt the urge to write 
to Mrs. Sanger, but I think now that I should have done so. 
I should have written in the following fashion and thereby 
contributed my share to the great American tragedy. 

DEAR MRS. SANGER: 

I am only thirty-eight years old and have been married less 
than fifteen years, but we already have ten children and I 
am beginning to feel that there is no reason why I should not 
have ten more. When we married, my husband was earning 
just ten dollars a week as a school-teacher, and at the end 



250 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

of ten years he was getting less than three thousand a year 
and we had seven children. We have never had any income 
except what we could earn, so I have always done practically 
all my own work, including the cleaning, cooking, washing 
and everything. For years we hardly ever went to a theater 
or concert or took a vacation. Four years ago my husband lost 
his job and had to start in an entirely new line, but the chil- 
dren kept right on coming. Now we have ten of them and 
the oldest not yet fourteen, while the youngest is about six 
months. During the time before the last one was born my 
husband was taken ill and had to go away to a hospital for 
a serious operation, and my mother was also taken ill and 
died. I had to let my own work go in order to help nurse 
her. Through all this trouble I wondered many times what 
would be the effect of it all on the new arrival. 

When I was married I knew very little about marriage and 
all its responsibilities, and had to learn as best I could by 
experience. Just now I have a cold in the head and the boys 
have kicked a football through the living-room window and 
the dishes aren't washed and the coal man has sent a bill 
with "Please Remit" on it, and what's going to become of 
us I don't know. 

Perhaps Mrs. Sanger would have published this confes- 
sion; perhaps she wouldn't. The point is that while its facts 
are all true, its implications are all false. I don't feel sorry 
for myself, and I never did. There's nothing the matter with 
my family, and there's nothing the matter with me that I 
can blame on the family. There's nothing the matter with 
the latest arrival, who is a healthy, happy, good-looking 
little rascal and the pride and joy of the whole household. 
Other people may feel sorry for us because we have practi- 
cally the largest and noisiest family east of the Mississippi, 
but we don't feel sorry for ourselves. We have a tremen- 
dously good time with our family, and we don't much care 
who knows it. 

The trouble with all this loose talk and careful propaganda 
about birth control is that it implies, more or less subtly, 



ARE TEN TOO MANY? 2$! 

that the large family is in itself a dangerous, undesirable 
and even reprehensible performance. It is inferred and even 
stated that overproduction involves a tempting of Provi- 
dence, an invitation to poverty, and a gamble with maternal 
health and childhood happiness. It ignores all chances that 
the large family may have positive and intrinsic advantages 
of its own, and its own rewards and compensations for all 
the toil and trouble attached to it. It implies without ac- 
tually saying so that the small family is the right family 
and the large family the wrong family, and that therefore 
people like myself are in some sense a public nuisance or a 
public menace. 

So although I have been steadfastly uninterested in birth 
control propaganda as such, I find myself compelled to have 
some ideas on the subject. I have, in fact, been publicly 
debating the problem in a definitely practical fashion through 
fifteen years and by means of ten children. Every new bud 
on the family tree has been not only a hostage given to 
fortune but a challenge and even an affront to all these 
people who seem to know what is good for me and good for 
my children and good for the human society in which we all 
find ourselves. Mrs. Sanger might conceivably approve of 
my family, but only as an exception to prove her rule, for 
we are fundamentally on opposite sides of the argument. I 
am doubtful of my abilities as a debater, and therefore when 
the subject came my way I have kept quiet. But there is 
nothing quiet about a family of ten. It is an assertive, 
obvious and concrete argument in itself. 

But apart from particular cases and present company, I 
feel that thd vital consideration in the birth control dis- 
cussion is the matter of proper proportion. Nobody denies 
that there are many mothers who have more children than 
they know what to do with. Everybody must agree that the 
world holds too much misery which is a by-product of un- 
restricted child-bearing, particularly now that Mrs. Sanger 
has filled a book with it. But it should be remembered that 



252 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

other books of human misery might be filled readily enough 
with the dreadful things wrought by tight shoes, aspirin tab- 
lets, radio sopranos, home cooking and cocktail shakers, with- 
out actually proving anything except that it is all too bad. 

Mrs. Sanger has collected abnormalities and horrors in 
such quantity that the whole of humanity seems tarred with 
the same brush. In effect she preaches that uncalculating 
.parenthood is a sort of universal disease, which can only be 
relieved by the universal practice of her pet doctrine. She 
is deeply distressed by all the troubles she has seen, so that 
her theories have become badly scrambled with her emotions 
and she attempts to be both sympathetic and scientific at 
the same time. Therefore she at last makes the usual mistake 
of women who attempt the guidance of public opinion, and 
tries to transfer to public responsibility what is essentially 
and inevitably a private and local problem. 

I have said that this seems to be a matter of proportion, 
and it is certainly so in a private sense. Every married 
woman must draw up her own balance sheet of debits and 
credits in this business of motherhood. Every married man 
must do the same. Children are both a liability and an asset, 
and in order to reckon the net values of the family natural, 
moral and spiritual the parents must have an honest show- 
down with their own consciences and convictions. What they 
do about it is their own business, and should have nothing to 
do with the current fashions in families or the legal status 
of this doctrine or that. When the sub-surface agitation in 
favor of birth control begins to assume shape as a popular 
notion that three or four or five children are enough, it takes 
away from the most conscientious parents something of 
the freedom to which they are entitled. 

It is a matter of proportion. Each and all of us have our 
own scale of values by which we measure the worth of the 
pleasures, privileges, duties, comforts and satisfactions of 
life. Our attitude toward children, real and potential, will 
reflect pretty closely what we think and feel about these 



ARE TEN TOO MANY? 253 

various elements. It really has nothing to do with the rights 
and wrongs of birth control. Birth control, rightly or wrongly, 
is no more than another device which we use or decline in 
deference to our sense of what is important. We ought, in 
honesty to ourselves, to resent the suggestion that it is any- 
thing more, that it is an article of faith for the scientific 
age. We ought, in a word, to feel free and be free to take 
it or leave it alone. 

So though I do not believe in birth control, neither do I 
disbelieve in it. To announce that I believe in it means 
that I believe in it for somebody else, which seems to me 
to be none of my business. It happens that I don't believe 
in it for myself, under present circumstances and conditions, 
but that also is an entirely personal conviction and one 
which has no relation or importance to any other woman's 
problem. But I do believe that the contraceptionists are un- 
wittingly making things uncomfortable for the large family, 
by giving scientific encouragement to the human liking for 
scandals. People do love to think the worst of their neighbors, 
and there is no such likely target as the parents of a large 
family. There ought, I think, to be a closed season for such 
parents, during which it would be a breach of the peace for 
mere theorists to add bedevilment to their burdens. Bachelors, 
maiden ladies and scientific reformers should in particular 
be warned to stay off the matrimonial grass where they have 
no proper business. 

It is a long time since anyone made out a case for the 
large family. The argument has all been on the other side. 
I find at least four general arguments in favor of the small 
family, (i) Its cultural advantages. (2) Its possibilities for 
health and intelligence. (3) Economic necessities. (4) Racial 
hazards and obligations. To keep my conscience clear I 
must make some sort of a settlement with each of them. 

The eugenists tell us that the small family is the really 
civilized achievement, in the face of all experience that 
one child or two may be totally unpleasant products and 



254 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

that the small family is perilously near to extinction with the 
first epidemic of whooping cough. They argue that the small 
family gets its full rations of educational and other advan- 
tages and turns out a higher type of citizen thereby. The 
answer is that it doesn't. Other things being equal, the large 
family gives better social training than the small one, and 
offers more stimulus to imagination, enterprise and intelli- 
gence during the most critically formative years. My own 
children knock the corners from each other, sharpen their 
wits on each other, and practice the social virtues on each 
other. They must necessarily learn to work together and 
play together. They must take small responsibilities early, 
and their affections and ambitions have small chance to get 
self-centered. It is possible that they may go short some 
day on the high-priced privileges of education and travel, 
but it won't matter much. They are learning already how 
to find their way about and make themselves a place in the 
world, and they are learning it at home. 

In regard to the second point I take refuge in the record. 
My children are perfectly healthy and reasonably intelli- 
gent, and the later ones seem to have a slight edge on the 
earlier experiments. The suggestion that they might have 
been more so had there been fewer of them does not much 
interest me. Children, it seems, are healthy and intelligent 
principally according to the health and intelligence of their 
immediate ancestors and the parental progression in mutual 
development and usefulness, and if there is any rhyme or 
reason to the matter the later child has the best chance. 
Concerning my own health I am equally free from anxiety. 
I weighed a scant hundred pounds on my wedding day, but 
since I have increased by nearly four per cent per annum the 
family regards me as a good investment. 

The third argument concerns the economic probabilities. 
To this my answer is that we have never yet been justified 
by our income in extending our family. We have extended 
the family, and then done what might be done to bring the 



ARE TEN TOO MANY? 255 

income up to scratch. We were as financially embarrassed 
by one child as we are by ten, and we shall probably con- 
tinue that way. Nothing in our married experience leads us 
to suppose that a small family guarantees financial inde- 
pendence or a large family forbids it; the two things simply 
don't have any cause-and-effect connection. We have no 
certainty as to what the morrow may bring forth, any more 
than do our more cautious neighbors, but we are sure of 
this, that the constant challenge and spur of increasing re- 
sponsibilities and necessities have been fundamentally good 
for us. If we ever amount to anything socially, financially, 
and particularly as to character and worth my husband 
and I are agreed that we shall blame it on the children. 

I am not entirely clear about the racial obligations in- 
volved in the doctrine of the small family. Very few people 
seem to be clear on the matter, with the exception of Have- 
lock Ellis and a few others whose opinion, I suspect, is a 
fairly academic one. But I understand that a certain Mr. 
Malthus, aided and abetted by higher mathematics, has 
demonstrated that the human race, unless checked in its 
mad career by Act of Congress, is due either to be squeezed 
to death or starved to death. This is important if true, though 
it is probably not my business. But it may not be true. His- 
tory is full of the dead bones of prophecies that have come 
to a sad end and the future is full of unknown quantities to 
upset all human calculations. Further, I am impressed by 
the obvious standstill and even retrogression of population 
increase within my own range of experience. Despite all my 
own contributions to the cause, the generation to which my 
children belong is falling short of its predecessors. There 
are families of my near acquaintance that are literally 
dying out; and nobody knows why. Civilization, I suppose, 
is taking its own toll by many secret ways, without much 
direct help from statisticians and scientists. 

One other thing I have discovered by dabbling a little 
in vital statistics. The apparently alarming population in- 



256 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

creases of the past generation or so don't mean all that they 
seem to. Many children were born, for our country at- 
tracted chiefly the young and hardy; few old people died, 
for the dying generation belonged to a previous period of 
much smaller population. But now the numerical advan- 
tage shifts up the line, aided as it has been by the lengthen- 
ing of the expectation of life during the past generation, and 
a lot of people must die soon as the consequence of having 
been born in the busiest times of the last century. Looking 
around a small circle of acquaintance, particularly in our 
cities, I can't see that the coming generation will do more 
than compensate for the ordinary wear and tear of time on 
the ones that are passing. My friends and acquaintances 
aren't having any too many babies to take the place of all 
the uncles and aunts and grandparents and such whose time 
is nearly over. So much for statistics, which don't mean 
much anyway. 

To get back to my own family, which as usual is in 
danger of neglect whenever I mess around with speculations, 
the four popular arguments in favor of the job-lot of chil- 
dren simply don't apply, so far as I am concerned. And I 
am aware of substantial arguments on the other side. I 
leave out of the discussion certain spiritual considerations 
which are entirely personal, and I prefer to ignore all uncon- 
vincing statistics about everything. I rest the case for the 
large family on the simple fact that children are desirable 
because they are pleasant and stimulating things to have 
around the house. They vastly increase the happiness of 
life. Happiness is made up of responsibility, ambition and 
achievement, of mutual appreciations that are a bond and 
blessing for two people who understand each other, and of 
numerous intelligent appreciations. A family of ten children 
will supply these in quantity and variety. 

Children are, of course, sometimes a nuisance and always 
an embarrassment. They keep you out of bridge clubs, poker 
games, golf tournaments, uplift movements and the movies, 



ARE TEN TOO MANY? 257 

and even out of the divorce court. They insist that you shall 
make a reasonable attempt to live happily with your own 
husband or wife, which is not a very dramatic, exciting or 
fashionable accomplishment. They demand that you shall 
devote most of your time to plain and unvarnished hard 
labor, but if this is undesirable or abnormal then the world 
was very badly designed on the first morning of creation. 
And they keep it up without much interruption until they 
pack up and leave you, which is an eventuality to be regarded 
as philosophically as possible. 

I concede that my philosophy, such as it is, ignores such 
charming contingencies as inherited lunacy, disease, and 
abject poverty; also pathological abnormality, confirmed 
criminality, and inherent immorality. These things do not 
belong in my personal problem; they belong rather in Mrs. 
Sanger's book. But I claim that the code of normal people 
is not to be determined by the behavior and condition of the 
unfortunates. 

For myself I am deeply thankful for all those enriching 
accidents which permit me the pride and delight of an old- 
fashioned family. I admit that I am fortunate -fortunate in 
having good health, a home in the country, kindly and for- 
bearing friends, and a calm and perhaps cowlike disposition. 
For some of these advantages I thank the children them- 
selves, and my family doctor is inclined to agree with me. 
And since I am fortunately free of some of the bogies that 
are frightening family folk out of their proper rights and 
responsibilities, I can enjoy my family as the veritable 
"heritage and reward" of the Biblical phrase. For I have 
found that a real family of children pays an adequate daily 
dividend of satisfaction and delight, and if you don't believe 
it you may ask at least one woman who owns one. 



WOMEN AND BIRTH CONTROL 1 

By Margaret Sanger 

I WAS one of eleven children. My mother died in her 
forties. My father enjoyed life until his eighties. Seven of 
my brothers and sisters are still living. If I am not an "old- 
fashioned" woman, at least I was an old-fashioned child. I 
have never thought it necessary to call public attention to 
these circumstances of my life. Not that I am ashamed of 
them, but, on the other hand, neither am I brazenly proud 
of them. I do not believe that these facts are sufficient as a 
foundation upon which to erect a code of morals for all 
men and women of the future to follow. I do not say: a My 
mother gave birth to eleven living children, seven of whom 
are still alive and more or less healthy. Ergo, all women 
should give birth to eleven or a dozen children." There are, 
it seems to me, a few other things to consider. 

I have been impelled to cast aside my habitual reticence 
because I have just finished reading a highly personal essay 
in the March number of the North American Review, writ- 
ten by a lady known as Majorie Wells. Mrs. Wells confesses 
herself the mother of ten children. Her family stretches 
"already as far as the eye can reach and with the end not 
yet in sight." This biological fact seems to endow Mrs. 
Wells with the glib authority to hand down decisions con- 
cerning complex problems which have puzzled humanity 
since civilization first began. I rejoice with Marjorie Wells 
in the peace and happiness she has found in her "monu- 
mental" family. But I confess that I am not convinced that 
feminine wisdom increases in direct proportion with the 
number of one's offspring. 

1 From the North American Review, May, 1929. 



WOMEN AND BIRTH CONTROL 259 

Implicit in Marjorie Wells 7 confession I discover a certain 
condescension toward the mothers of smaller families. She 
knows all there is to know about keeping the stork from the 
door. She admits her vastly superior knowledge of practical 
biology. She has read my book Motherhood in Bondage, 
which is a compilation of case records in marital misery, of 
protests from slave mothers against the blind inhumanity of 
natural law. From the citadel of her self-satisfaction, Mar- 
jorie Wells asserts that my theories have become badly 
scrambled with my emotions and that I attempt to be "both 
scientific and sympathetic at the same time" as though 
that were quite impossible! I have made, according to Mrs. 
Wells, "the usual mistake of women who attempt the 
guidance of public opinion, and try to transfer to public 
responsibility what is essentially and inevitably a private 
and local problem." 

Intellectually speaking, she "high-hats" me. A mere 
woman who has borne only three children instead of ten, who 
can therefore never hope to reach that peak of serene 
Olympian indifference to the cries and moans of my less 
fortunate sisters which Marjorie Wells has attained, I can- 
not hope to equal in dialectic skill a lady who has enjoyed 
the educational advantages of ten pregnancies. I have not 
yet attained that point of self-confidence which enables me 
to cast aside as irrelevant and unimportant the conclusion^ 
of scientists who have devoted their lives to the study of 
genetics, nor can I close my eyes to the statistics of govern- 
ment workers who have made deep researches into the con- 
ditions productive of the alarming maternity death rate in 
these United States. Having been only one of eleven hungry 
little brothers and sisters, I was not able to profit by the 
early educational advantages which Marjorie Wells evidently 
enjoyed. Her philosophic poise enables her to look upon the 
birth of a child as "a purely private and local problem." I 
have always assumed, and I do not believe that I am egregious 
in this assumption, that the birth of a child is an event of 



260 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

the utmost importance not only to the family into which it 
is born, but to the community, to the nation, to the whole 
future of the human race. I agree with President Hoover: 

The ideal to which we should strive is that there shall be no 
child in America: That has not been born under proper con- 
ditions; that does not live in hygienic surroundings; that 
ever suffers from undernourishment; that does not have 
prompt and efficient medical attention and inspection; that 
does not receive primary instruction in the elements of 
hygiene and good health; that has not the complete birth- 
right of a sound mind and a sound body; that has not the 
encouragement to express in fullest measure the spirit within 
which is the final endowment of every human being. 

I suppose those of us who subscribe to these ideas are in 
the eyes of Marjorie Wells hopeless sentimentalists. 

My opponent sharply crystallizes a definite point of view 
not only concerning the theory and the practice of birth 
control, but toward all the social problems which confront 
us today. Hers is the attitude of "splendid isolation/' of 
enlightened self-interest, of laissez-faire. She tells us in 
effect that she is the mother of ten healthy children, that 
she and her husband enjoy from them a daily dividend of 
satisfaction and delight, and that therefore she "should 
worry" about the behavior and condition of the less for- 
tunate. "Am I my sister's keeper?" asks in effect Marjorie 
Wells. 

It is late in the day to point out that all human experience 
teaches that an attitude of "splendid isolation" can no 
longer be logically maintained by any individual in the face 
of the problems which confront American civilization. If 
only from the motive of self-protection the well-born and the 
well-bred can no longer shirk responsibility concerning "the 
behavior and the condition of the unfortunates.'' 

Time after time, it has been demonstrated in all the coun- 
tries of Western civilization, that as we descend the social 



WOMEN AND BIRTH CONTROL 26 1 

scale the birth rate increases. Dependent, delinquent and 
defective classes all tend to become more prolific than the 
average normal and self-dependent stratum of society. With 
this high birth rate is correlated a high infant mortality rate. 
This law is true in all countries. More children are bom; 
more babies die. So likewise, the maternal mortality rate 
jumps correspondingly. Out of the surviving infants are re- 
cruited the morons, the feeble-minded, the dependents, who 
make organized charities a necessity, and who later fill 
prisons, penitentiaries and state homes. To compute the cost 
in dollars and cents of these industriously prolific classes to 
society is beyond human power. Every one of us pays for 
their support and maintenance. Funds which legitimately 
should go to pure scientific research, to aid the fine fruition 
of American civilization, are thus diverted to the support of 
those who in all charity and compassion should never 
have been born at all. 

We cannot ignore, as Marjorie Wells confesses she does, 
"such charming contingencies as inherited lunacy, disease 
and abject poverty. " They press in upon us on all sides. 
These things, she says, do not belong in her personal prob- 
lem. I beg to remind her that they do. For, despite her valiant 
efforts to bring up her own brood, Mrs. Wells will, in time, 
find out, if she has not already found out, that the children 
of the defective and the diseased will crowd into the school- 
room with her own children, and that standards of intelli- 
gence must perforce be lowered to meet their limited capaci- 
ties. The community in which she lives will call upon her 
to aid the alleviation of the poverty and distress of the all 
too prolific. Her property and income will be taxed to main- 
tain state institutions for the support of the dependent and 
the delinquent. She will resent bitterly this enforced ex- 
penditure of funds that should go for the higher education 
and the cultural development of her talented children. That 
is, if her resources are as limited as she admits them to be. 
And finally she will discover that her own good luck in life 



262 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

is not the general rule, but a fortunate exception, upon which 
it would be the utmost folly to attempt to generalize con- 
cerning this exceedingly human race. 

"But," she may now retort, "you are speaking dogmati- 
cally, making a special plea for public approval of the dis- 
semination of birth control." Marjorie Wells is convinced 
that the cases recorded in my book Motherhood in Bondage 
are abnormalities and horrors, gathered together merely to 
foist the practice of contraception upon unwilling parents. 

Let us turn, then, to less prejudiced and partisan sources. 
Let us consider the findings of impartial investigators who 
have no interest in what our critics call propaganda. Let us 
find out, if we can, the truth concerning the conditions under 
which children are brought into our American world. For this 
evidence we need not go far afield. In a recent report pub- 
lished in the Survey, Hazel Corbin, R.N., general director 
of the Maternity Center Association of New York, states 
that year after year, more than twenty thousand women die 
from causes due to childbirth one mother for every one 
hundred and fifty babies born! The Newton bill had as its 
aim government responsibility for the health of American 
citizens including the special needs of the mothers of the 
country. This bill died when the last Congress expired. The 
Sheppard-Towner Act expires June 30, 1929; and unless 
Congress provides a further federal subsidy, the government 
aid for mothers and children which its funds have furthered 
during the last six years will be brought to a close. 

When correlated with the refusal of state legislatures to 
consider bills which would make birth control education per- 
missive, these facts assume new significance. Our govern- 
ment pronounces itself unwilling to assume responsibility in 
alleviating the hazardous trade of maternity. At the same 
time the state and federal authorities refuse to countenance 
legislation which would allow American mothers to help them- 
selves which would permit them to choose the time and 
the conditions best suited for the fulfillment of the maternal 



WOMEN AND BIRTH CONTROL 263 

function. "The birth of a baby is such a common, everyday 
occurrence," writes Hazel Corbin, "that people do not 
realize that during pregnancy the margin between health 
and disease becomes dangerously narrow, and only by skilled 
medical supervision can the maintenance of health be as- 
sured. Every mother in the country needs skilled medical 
supervision, nursing care and instruction during pregnancy, 
at delivery, and for the six weeks that follow. Many families 
do not know of this need. Not all families can provide this 
care. It is not available at any price in many parts of this 
rich country. There are no doctors, nurses and midwives 
properly trained to give adequate care to all mothers." 

Yet two million women in America are compelled, by law, 
to descend annually into the valley of the shadow of death, 
to bear two million children in a country that has enacted 
drastic immigration restriction laws to prevent overpopula- 
tion. No: we are not underpopulated there is no need for 
a "full speed ahead" policy of procreation. Since the 
revelations of Motherhood in Bondage are condemned as ex- 
ceptional, let us listen further to the testimony of Hazel Cor- 
bin: "There are, caring for our mothers, midwives so ig- 
norant and superstitious as to suppose hemorrhage can be 
controlled by placing an ax upside down under the patient's 
bed. Of about fifty thousand practicing midwives only a small 
portion are well-trained and the majority are untrained yet 
in most instances they are licensed or registered by their 
states/' 

Let us turn to the testimony of Julia Lathrop, ex-chief 
of the Children's Bureau, under whose supervision govern- 
ment agents made extensive investigations into the condi- 
tions surrounding infant mortality in eight typical cities of 
our country. Infant mortality rates concern all children who 
die during the first five years of life. On the whole, according 
to Miss Lathrop in the Woman's Journal, the evidence is 
overwhelming that poverty, ignorance, or both, lack of medi- 
cal and nursing care, unwholesome living conditions, over- 



264 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

worked mothers, remoteness from doctors and nurses in 
rural areas, and other types of inability to give babies needed 
care are in marked degree coincident with high infant mor- 
tality rates. A vast number of babies and of mothers die 
needlessly every year in this country. This fact is well 
known to statisticians, doctors and to some social workers, 
but details as to social and economic conditions under which 
the parents live are seldom disclosed or frankly discussed. 

Today the situation remains fundamentally unnoticed. 
Women clamor for deliverance from compulsory motherhood. 
Yet dull-witted legislators, both state and federal, refuse to 
sanction the dissemination of harmless contraceptives to those 
unable or unwilling, due to the conditions discovered by 
government agents, to undergo a pregnancy that may be 
fatal to mother or child. Yet measures aiming to improve by 
governmental agencies dysgenic conditions surrounding ma- 
ternity and infancy are condemned and defeated as "pa- 
ternalistic." The situation calls for a Shaw or a Swift. 

Perhaps this dilemma has been created not so much by 
the laws and the legislators themselves as by the smug and 
bland indifference of women themselves of those fortunate, 
well-bred, well-educated women who refuse to concern them- 
selves with the sordid tragedies of those they consider their 
social inferiors. 

Whether birth control is right or wrong, moral or im- 
moral, a need or a nuisance, one thing is certain. Mothers 
of ten or of one can no longer, by the mere exercise of a 
function common to all living creatures, consider themselves 
exempt from social responsibility. As Miss Lathrop has 
expressed it: "One thing is in my opinion certain only 
mothers can save this cooperative work for maternity and 
infancy. If prosperous, intelligent mothers do not urge the 
protection of the lives of all mothers and all babies, why 
should we expect Congress to come unasked to their aid?" 

Though Julia Lathrop is here making a plea only for 
government protection of maternity and infancy, the same 



WOMEN AND BIRTH CONTROL 265 

truth is applicable to the doctrine of birth control. The most 
stubborn opposition to birth control has come, not from the 
moralists nor the theologians, the most distinguished of whom 
recognize its legitimate necessity, but from those women 
who, like Marjory Wells, "know as much about keeping the 
stork from the door as my most friendly and unfriendly 
critics," yet nevertheless assume that such knowledge, sim- 
ple, harmless and hygienic as it is, must be kept for the 
privileged few and from the very women most in need of it. 
Such an attitude seems to grow out of a frantic feminine 
desire to retain a certain superiority, social or otherwise, 
over one's less fortunate neighbors. 

Even for that very limited and very special type of woman 
who is gifted by nature and natural inclination and also by 
wealth to undertake a specialized career in maternity and 
to become the mother of ten or a dozen children, there is 
need for the practice of birth control. For if she be intelligent 
and farseeing, such a woman will recognize the necessity of 
"spacing" her children, of recuperating her full physical 
strength and psychic well-being after the birth of one child 
before undertaking the conception of another. Mothers of 
large families have written me expressing their gratitude 
for the benefits of birth control. It has enabled them to 
give each of their children a good start in life. It has pre- 
vented crowding, and has moreover permitted them to enjoy 
marital communion which would otherwise have been impos- 
sible. But let us recognize today with the ever-increasing 
cost of living and the high cost of childbirth that the large 
family must more and more be considered the privilege of 
the moneyed class. A large family, if the income is small, is 
a crime against the children born into it. I was one of eleven, 
and I believe that I am slightly more entitled to speak on 
this subject than Marjory Wells, who is, after all, only the 
mother of ten! I may be prejudiced, but I feel that the 
testimony of a child born into a large family is of more 



266 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

interest and importance than that of the mere progenitor of 
a large family. It all depends on the point of view! 

American civilization has long passed the pioneer stage of 
its development. We no longer have a vast continent to 
populate. We no longer need mere numbers. But we are only 
beginning to realize that there are other values in life than 
those of mere quantity. We have not yet outgrown the 
adolescent habit of worshiping the biggest this, the largest 
that, the most of the other thing. So, I think, no one need 
take any excessive pride in the production of a large family, 
even though the rotogravure sections of our Sunday news- 
papers will undoubtedly, for the delight and amusement 
of their millions of readers, continue to publish photographs 
of large families which imitate visually a long flight of steps. 

The attitude of those who have been rewarded by life, and 
cannot see the punishment inflicted upon others, reminds 
me always of Dr. Pangloss in Voltaire's Candide. "It has 
been proved/' said Dr. Pangloss, "that things cannot be 
otherwise than they are; for, everything being made for a 
certain end, the end for which everything is made is neces- 
sarily the best end." And though the world went to wreck 
and ruin about him, he still maintained that "it does not 
become me to retract my words. Leibnitz cannot possibly be 
wrong the preestablished harmony is the finest thing in 
the world. All events are inextricably linked together in this 
best of all possible worlds." 

Rather, I think, in this matter of mothers and children 
whether we be the mother of ten, or the sister of ten we 
must heed the counsel of Candide himself and cultivate our 
garden. 



WHY THE CHURCH SHOULD CHAMPION 
BIRTH CONTROL 1 

By Charles F. Potter 

Ax St. Mark's in the Bouerie, Charles Rann Kennedy and 
Edith Wynn Mathison presented that tremendous drama of 
the crucifixion entitled, The Terrible Meek. Those of you 
who have seen it will recall that the curtain rises in dark- 
ness. There are heard the voices of a woman and of a 
cockney captain of the guard discussing the fact that the 
woman's son has recently been hanged. It is only as hints are 
occasionally dropped in the conversation, and as the light 
gradually increases that you find that the woman is Mary 
and that her son who has been hanged or crucified is Jesus, 
and the remarks that she makes and the rather unusual point 
of view which the author makes or has give you a fresh view 
of that great drama of all history. 

The whole denouement of the play centers around a cer- 
tain awakening in the soul of Mary, who finally comes to 
make this supreme statement, recognizing that all her anguish, 
all the suffering of herself and of her son, were for a definite 
purpose, and she says, "All this suffering and the death of 
my peasant boy were in order to make the world better for 
women and children." 

Now, I maintain that if the Christian church can center 
its attention upon that great drama of Calvary and recognize 
with Mary that the suffering there and the suffering in her 
mother heart were in order to make the world better for 

1 Lecture delivered by Dr. Potter, Founder and Leader of the 
First Humanist Society of New York. Published in Religious and 
Ethical Aspects of Birth Control (edited by Margaret Sanger), The 
American Birth Control League, 1926. 

267 



268 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

women and little children, no informed person will dare to 
say that the church should not champion birth control. 

For the Christian church has taken upon itself this pe- 
culiar task, to make the world better for women and little 
children. In whatever other task it has attempted, it may 
or may not have succeeded. It at least has tried at times 
to make the world better for women and little children. 
Paul gave things a wrong turn at first, and we have hardly 
yet recovered from his attitude toward women, but we are 
gradually coming, in Christianity and in other religions as 
well, to recognize the proper place of woman, which is a 
place equal to the place of man, and we are gradually coming 
to see that we must pay more attention to the comfort and 
the happiness and especially to the education of the little 
children. It is, as Dr. Reiland has so well said, coming to be 
recognized that the biological is extremely important in all 
human activity, and, thanks to such pioneers as the one 
whom we have with us today, we are coming to see that the 
church should champion birth control because birth control 
does make the world better for little children. 

Poetically and aesthetically the church exalts motherhood. 
The time has come for the church to cooperate actively in 
practical measures to make that poetical, dreamy Mother's 
Day superstition a reality, a definite, active thing in the 
lives of men. 

Every day I pass the Convent of the Holy Child, and 
there I see, enshrined in marble, high above the city traffic, 
the Mother and the Child, beautiful, poetic, mystic, Christian 
in a sense. But so often I think what a terribly tragedy, 
that the church should put motherhood and the child so far 
above everything else that they fail sometimes even to lift 
their eyes and see. There they are exalted, put upon a 
pedestal and forgotten, whereas the motherhood and the 
childhood are the great opportunity of the race to retrieve 
some of its past wrongs. 

The church the very one which enshrines the Mother 



WHY CHURCH SHOULD CHAMPION BIRTH CONTROL 26p 

and Child upon the outside of its convents insists that to 
take practical measures to insure the happiness of the mother 
and child is what? Obscene and immoral. Is there a more 
contradictory thing in history than that? The time has 
come for every church, every synagogue, every temple, every 
group of people pretending to be religious and moral, to 
maintain that the practical measure of birth control affords 
our best opportunity of assuring to the child the proper 
welcome in the home and to the mother that leisure which 
is absolutely imperative if she is to develop the spiritual side 
of her nature. 

Whatever may be our particular theological relation to 
Jesus of Nazareth, I doubt if there is one person here this 
afternoon who would deny that his most important state- 
ment, or at least one of his most important statements 
which have come down to us, is this: "I am come that they 
might have life and that they might have it more abundantly." 

I am devoting my own particular leisure to the advocacy 
of birth control measures because I believe that in & practical 
sense there is no other reform which so fundamentally assures 
to the genus homo life, and life more abundantly. 

The trouble is that that passage has been misinterpreted 
to mean physical life, and we have had churches, we still 
have churches, which insist that the thing to do is not to 
interfere with nature but to allow nature to produce life 
more abundantly. Now, that reproduction of physical life 
until it becomes such an incubus and burden that it weights 
down and blots out all spiritual nature, is not the meaning, 
of course, of this phrase not physical life, for when that 
comes too fast the spiritual is swamped, and the spiritual 
is what Jesus emphasized. I am confident that spiritual life 
will come not in an increase in the birth rate, and not in the 
having of families of fifteen and eighteen children, but rather 
in the producing of children properly spaced who will have 
adequate time for their own development given to them by 
the mother. 



270 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

In this way, by the modern church dealing with condi- 
tions as they are to help this world become better, we shall 
find ourselves nearer the happy land of heart's desire than 
we have hitherto been. 

I believe that the church should champion birth control 
for several very definite practical reasons. In the first place, 
birth control protects the mother against the exhaustion of 
body and spirit which results from too frequent child-bearing. 
I believe the church should champion birth control because 
birth control will assure to the child a welcome and a fair 
start in life, and certainly everybody deserves that; it will 
assure to the child a mother's care and a home environment, 
conducive to health and morals. 

I believe that the church should champion birth control 
because birth control will mean less child labor and better 
educational opportunities for the young by making it pos- 
sible for parents to have only such children as they can care 
for properly. 

I believe that the church should champion birth control 
because it will cut down our tragically high infant mortal- 
ity, because it will make early marriage economically pos- 
sible for thousands of our young men and women and thereby 
diminish immorality, illegitimacy, prostitution and its ac- 
companiment, venereal diseases. And to speak frankly and 
plainly to an intelligent audience, may I say this, I believe 
that the church should champion birth control because only 
by the spread of contraceptive information through Birth 
Control Leagues can we check the growing practice of abor- 
tion among married women whose husbands do not earn 
enough to support a large family. 

I believe the church should champion birth control be- 
cause birth control will increase the number of marriages, 
lessen divorce and desertion, enrich and strengthen the mar- 
?iage bond by making possible normal and complete com- 
panionship between husband and wife without the haunting 
fear of too many children. 



WHY CHURCH SHOULD CHAMPION BIRTH CONTROL 271 

I believe that the church should support these measures 
because birth control will mean, in short, happier homes, 
healthier children, better men and women, a stronger nation 
and a nobler race. 

And if I may add a postscript to this rather hasty sum- 
mary of a few of the reasons why the church should cham- 
pion birth control for its own sake if the church should 
champion birth control, the general public would say, u Why, 
the church does care for men and women and real things, 
and we thought it didn't." 

It is my custom to travel incognito in various parts of 
New York City, to dress not exactly as a clergyman ordi- 
narily dresses, to mix in Third Avenue restaurants with 
people who earn their daily bread by the sweat of their 
brow. I steer the conversation toward the church, and if I 
told you the things which those men and women ninety 
per cent of them say about the church, you would leave 
this room in disgust, but those things are true for them. 
Why not make a practical demonstration of the fact that the 
church does care for the living conditions of men and 
women, and why not have the church champion birth con- 
trol? Birth control is coming. If it comes with the help of 
the church, the church will be strengthened, but if it comes 
without the help of the church, then the church will topple 
from its present rather precarious position. 



BIRTH CONTROL OR WAR? * 
by Henry Kittredge Norton 

BIRTH CONTROL or war? Those who have a liking for 
either will readily countenance the elimination of the other, 
but the choice between the two, if it is a necessary one, has 
a horrific aspect for many. Its moral aspects cause confusion 
and its practical aspects are difficult. 

The crux of the question is found in the demand of cer- 
tain countries for additional territories because their home- 
lands are crowded. Italy is the most forthright of such coun- 
tries at the moment, although Germany's insistence upon the 
restoration of her colonies is of the same stamp, and Japan, 
while less vociferous than a decade ago, does not forget her 
narrow confinement in a string of mountainous islands. Intel- 
lectuals throughout the Orient, in fact, express resentment 
against the white man's preemption of the unoccupied lands 
of the globe and his exclusion of the colored man therefrom. 

There is no accepted standard of size for a nation, either 
as to the number of its people or the extent of its territory. 
The meat of the matter is in the proportion these bear one to 
the other. The United States with its 120,000,000 people is 
not overcrowded, while Japan with half as many people feels 
congested in a territory less than one-tenth as large. And 
7,000,000 Australians fairly rattle around in a land as large 
as the United States. 

In this disproportion the Japanese find ground for com- 
plaint, just as do the Italians when they consider their efforts 
to maintain 40,000,000 people on an area hardly more than 
half that possessed by the same number of Frenchmen. The 
underlying thought in both cases is that the world's arable 

1 From the Outlook and Independent, March 26, 1930. 

272 



BIRTH CONTROL OR WAR? 273 

land should be distributed more uniformly. The ideal would 
be a distribution such that each man, whatever his national- 
ity, would have soil of approximately the same productive 
value back of him. 

As an ideal, such a distribution would have its merits. Let 
us suppose some super-dictator should so distribute it and 
that all should forthwith arrive at millennial happiness. 
Then let nature take its course and the next generation grow 
to maturity. Some of these ideal one-family farms would still 
be maintaining one family in prosperous circumstances and 
others would be groaning under the weight of six, eight or 
ten families. The first group would be white probably 
French and* the others colored Japanese, Chinese or 
Hindu. Another generation would repeat . . . but we are 
leaving our millennium far behind! 

What should the super-dictator do? Redistribute the lands 
equally among the men of each generation? Such a course 
would mean periodically taking land from the one-family 
peoples to supply the ever-increasing hordes of the ten- 
family peoples. General prosperity would give way first to 
general privation, then to destitution, then to squalor and 
degradation and then to the final struggle for mere existence. 
That way madness lies. The things of the spirit art, litera- 
ture, philosophy, religion, civilization itself would all go 
down in a brutishly relentless fight for a bare existence on 
the lowest animal plane. Too much of the world's history is 
already written in such characters. 

Yet the present plea of overcrowded nations for more 
land as an outlet for their surplus population leads logically 
in just this direction. They are in effect demanding addi- 
tional farms for their multitudinous offspring. The only way 
to obtain such farms is to take them away from the less 
prolific peoples. Quite naturally these peoples refuse to give 
them up unless they are compelled to do so by superior force. 

Japanese statisticians have declared that there is room in 
the world for 2,500,000,000 people living on the Japanese 



274 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

standard while the world can support only 1,000,000,000 on 
the American standard. Therefore, they triumphantly con- 
clude, Americans should move up a bit and make room for 
these extra hundreds of millions. But should we? Pursue this 
reasoning in the other direction. The world might support 
3,500,000,000 people on the Chinese or Indian standard. Are 
the Japanese ready to move up a bit closer to make room for 
these extra hundreds of millions merely because the Chinese 
and Indians can breed faster and live lower than they can? 

The complaint of overcrowding will come only from a 
people which is dissatisfied with its standard of living. The 
solution proposed by the Japanese statisticians, however, 
would not raise the Japanese standard. It would only bring 
down all the more favored peoples to that standard. And 
then, if the same course were faithfully pursued, all would 
continue to sink together to the plane of the very lowest. 

On this basis, the one criterion of race survival becomes the 
sheer animal capacity to procreate. No other quality would 
count because mere numbers would carry the day. 

It is fair to assume that neither the Japanese nor any other 
people of higher standards of living would care to adopt the 
Chinese or Indian standard. Our own immigration situation 
would indicate that all of them would readily adopt the 
American standard if they could. But they cannot do it on 
the theory that more land is the means to that end. 

There was a time when Japan and Italy, even China and 
India, were no more densely populated than the United 
States is today. In other words, they were then in exactly the 
position which they claim justice would give them today. 
And what did they do about it? They proceeded to breed 
at a rate which filled up their territory to overflowing and 
laid upon their sons an almost insupportable burden of com- 
petition for the barest essentials of existence. 

These sons demand a larger share of the world's acres. 
To give it to them is utterly futile so long as they carry on 
the procreative tradition of their fathers. Give them a prov- 



BIRTH CONTROL OR WAR? 275 

ince, give them a hemisphere, and in a moment of history 
they will fill it as full as the land they have today. They will 
have gained nothing, but the more continent peoples will 
have lost. Civilization will have lost. Humanity will have 
lost. And peace will be further from our grasp than ever 

Yet war or ft the power to make war will still be necessary 
for many generations if we are to hold the gains which 
civilization has made. Mass-procreation is as expansive in 
its nature as mass-production. It will constantly raise the 
human pressure and its output will clamor ever more 
stridently for a share of the advantages of those who refuse 
to diffuse their energies in prodigal reproduction. That pres- 
sure must be held back by force or civilization must sur- 
render. That surrender may be either wholesale or retail, 
Whenever the world tolerates the seizure of the territory of 
one country by another and recognizes its legal validity, that 
is wholesale surrender. Retail surrender is involved in some 
aspects of the immigration process. 

An undeveloped country welcomes immigrants. The more 
people there are, the more work, production and develop- 
ment there are. But sooner or later a point is reached when 
a further influx of people does not raise the average well- 
being. Instead it lowers it. This point is somewhat difficult 
to locate with exactitude because it varies with the degree of 
technical development, the social organization and the psy- 
chological attitude of the people. A Chinese might feel there 
was plenty of room where an Englishman would feel fear- 
fully annoyed. 

But the point of population balance exists. Undoubtedly 
Italy, Japan, China and India have gone far past it. Aus- 
tralia and the Argentine have not yet reached it. The United 
States is probably very close to it. And thus there are emi- 
grant countries, immigrant countries and countries which 
have no desire to be either. 

Critics of the exclusion laws of the United States, Canada, 
Australia contend that there is within the borders of these 



276 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

countries an enormous amount of arable land which is un- 
used. This land it is asserted would maintain, in what for 
them would be affluence, millions of immigrants from the 
overcrowded countries. The conclusion is that the lands 
should be made available for the immigrants. But remember 
the ten-family farms. Those unused lands, beyond the mar- 
gin of profit for Americans, Canadians, Australians, are the 
very bulwark which sustains their higher standards of living. 
Admit the highly procreative peoples to them and those high 
standards begin to sink. This is retail surrender to mass- 
procreation. 

There is but one way to a satisfactory solution for those 
who desire the peace and progress of all mankind. That is for 
each nation to adjust its population to such numbers as its 
present territory will support on whatever standard of living 
it desires. It should not be permitted to seize the territory 
of others to make room for its increasing numbers. Nor has 
it any right to send its surplus people into other countries 
and overcrowd them to the detriment of their peoples. It 
can regulate the pressure of population in its own land as it 
sees fit, but every other nation is entitled to the same oppor- 
tunity. Population must be adjusted to territory and not 
territory to population. 

The colored peoples make prompt rejoinder. It is all very 
well, they say, for the white race, now that it has secured 
much of the Americas, most of Africa, and all of Australia, 
for its own expansion, to cry quits and suggest that every- 
body keep what he has. The colored spokesmen can see no 
justice in that. They insist that the races are equal and 
that the yellow and the brown are entitled to as much land 
per capita as the white. Reduced to its fundamentals, this is 
simply a claim that because the yellow and the brown races 
have produced more children, therefore they are entitled 
to more of the earth's surface. If there be any injustice in 
the proposal to maintain the status quo, it will be less than 



BIRTH CONTROL OR WAR? 2 77 

the injustice caused by unending efforts to change it by 
military power. 

But how much of injustice is there in maintaining the 
status quo? India and China had an advanced civilization 
3,000 years ago. Japan makes hers 2,500 years old. In com- 
parison, the civilization of Europe and America is hardly out 
of its swaddling clothes. During all those centuries before 
it had found itself, the Americas, Africa and Australia were 
sparsely peopled by savages. Did the yellow and brown 
races make any effort to reclaim them for civilization? If 
the white race had never existed, how long would it have 
been before India, China or Japan would have peopled these 
lands? Without the achievements of the white race, the yel- 
low and brown would be just where they are today so 
far as room for expansion is concerned. 

Whichever way the scales of justice may tip, it is per- 
fectly obvious to any person who prefers fact to fantasy 
that the peoples who possess lands on this shrinking globe 
of ours are not going to hand them over to others, no matter 
how great the need of those others may be made to appear. 
It is equally obvious that the crowded peoples will never 
miss an opportunity to get more land whenever it offers. This 
is such stuff as wars are made of. If wars do not come, it 
will be because the less crowded peoples remain so well pre- 
pared that the outcome is a foregone conclusion. Thus it 
is clear that we shall have war or menace of war until such 
time as the mass-procreation peoples consent to restrain their 
reproductive proclivities. 

It was the fashion for a time to smile condescendingly 
at the predictions of Malthus. It was held that the Indus- 
trial Revolution had utterly invalidated his conclusions so 
far as England was concerned. And this appeared to be the 
case. For England's population doubled and trebled beyond 
the limits he had set for it. England was able to accomplish 
this, however, because there were other parts of the world 
untouched by the Industrial Revolution. The great unde- 



278 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

veloped areas of the New World and the backward masses 
of Asia absorbed her industrial products and enabled her to 
sustain this increased population on a standard of living 
higher than that of Malthus' day. But those halcyon days 
have passed. The rest of the world is not only increasingly 
able to supply its own industrial demands but is increasingly 
jealous of its right to do so. 

Even the Industrial Revolution did not help the population 
problem in the overcrowded Asian lands, nor did it help it 
much in Italy. Now that the world is beginning to feel its 
unity, it becomes evident that the conclusions of Malthus, 
while temporarily upset as to England, may have a new 
validity when applied to the world as a whole. To invalidate 
them in this larger field, there must be a world-wide eco- 
nomic advance comparable in intensity to the Industrial 
Revolution in England but universal in its operation. 

This is unlikely enough, but to have any permanent effect 
upon the standard of living in the mass-procreation countries 
it must be accompanied by a resolve on the part of their peo- 
ples to become more temperate in some of their habits. 
Otherwise they will in all too short a time find themselves 
again exactly where they are now. 

So, strive to escape it as we will, the inevitable alternative 
seems still to face us. If the prolific peoples insist upon the 
unlimited indulgence of their procreative abilities, it will be 
impossible to restrain their land-hunger except by the pres- 
ence of overwhelming force. War and the menace of war 
will thus remain with us until its alternative is accepted. 

In some highly influential quarters birth control is con- 
demned as an immoral practice. All the powers of ecclesias- 
tical authority are marshaled against the dissemination of 
information regarding it. Practice, of course, consistently 
ignores precept in this regard, and quite without reference to 
the moral aspects of the question. Whatever these moral 
aspects may be, whatever may be the arguments deduced in 
their support, it seems clear that those who denounce birth 



BIRTH CONTROL OR WAR? 279 

control thereby whether intentionally or not is immaterial 
increase the possibilities of war. 

It would appear to the layman that the inevitability of 
such a choice involves moral considerations of quite as high 
an order as may be found in the question of birth control 
itself. The choice may be between two evils but the choice 
is there. There are only the two alternatives and humanity 
must choose birth control or war? 



VII 
THE ADOLESCENT 



THE SEX URGE, ITS ONSET AND MANAGEMENT * 

By Joseph Collins 

"TELL me a story/' is the child's continuous appeal to a 
parent. "Write me the truth about sex," is the publisher's 
frequent appeal to me. The inventive and resourceful parent 
yields; the prudent and foreseeing physician hesitates. There 
is a reason. 

The truth about sex is a large order. No one knows the 
whole truth, and if he did he would not be allowed to tell 
it. Church, convention and commerce do not want it and 
will not have it. Were I to tell as much of the truth as I 
know about sex, society would frown at me, the postal au- 
thorities would forbid its printed circulation, some self- 
constituted censor would hale me before a tribunal, and were 
I dependent upon patients for a livelihood, want would soon 
stare me in the face. 

On the other hand, the physician has unparalleled oppor- 
tunity for observing the course and fate of love and its 
effect upon those who experience and display it. It is his 
help that is usually sought when the ship Matrimony goes 
upon the rocks. I write from my own observation and ex- 
perience. One who has practiced medicine for a third of a 
century, who evoluted from family physician to neurologist, 
who has spent seventy-five thousand days in more or less 
successful attempts to succor footsore travelers on the road- 
way of life, should have made some observations of love's 
displays and love's disasters, and should have reached some 
conclusions about the role that maldirection and manhan- 
dling of the reproductive energy plays in the causation of 

1 From The Doctor Looks at Love and Life. New York: Double- 
day, Doran & Company, 1926. 

283 



284 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

disease and distress. He should be willing to submit them 
to his fellows. They should be willing to receive them. 

I am not a theologian so I do not know how man was 
made, but I believe that the God who has been revealed to 
me through my intelligence made him. There has been much 
discussion in recent years, as man has become more arrogant, 
national and predatory, as to whether it was done in just the 
way described in the first book of Moses. It really does not 
matter. We know that He made the caveman before He 
made the manikin and that He made unicellular organisms 
that reproduced their kind without fertilization or im- 
pregnation before He made the intricate morphological 
mechanism called man. 

Mankind has two fundamental urges: to stay alive, and 
to reproduce its kind. It is not germane to this discussion to 
express an opinion as to which is the stronger. There is no 
uniformity about them. The one is stronger in one individual, 
the other in another, and their strength varies in the same 
individual at different times. The nutritional or self-welfare 
urge has always been given free rein and encouragement, but 
the other has been so curbed and weighted that it seems, on 
casual consideration, to be by far the more dominant. Noth- 
ing could be further from the truth. The purpose of mankind 
like that of all creation is reproduction; the nutritional urge 
is accessory and contributory to it. A third urge, not funda- 
mental, but one that has possessed ^ian during the entire 
period of recorded history, is the ?slf-expression urge. It is 
responsible for all of our sins r.nd most of our salvation, 
for our accomplishments and our derelictions. Another sub- 
sidiary but conspicuous urge, the herd urge, makes the earth 
a paradise for the many, a hell for the few. 

It does not transcend my understanding that mankind 
originally received instruction from its Creator as to the 
management of its urge. God told the ancestors of the human 
race His reasons for creating them, their duties and obliga- 
tions. He left it to those who took upon themselves the re- 



THE SEX URGE, ITS ONSET AND MANAGEMENT 285 

sponsibility of carrying on His work to tell those whom they 
created their duties and obligations. They have failed to do 
so and it is likely they will continue to fail: from that failure, 
most of the inadequacies and infirmities flow. When God's 
masterpieces became sentient He blessed them and assured 
them of the plenitude of the earth and admonished them to 
subdue it. His injunction was that they be fruitful and mul- 
tiply; that they direct, coordinate and display the energy 
with which He had endowed them. They made a mess of it 
and their descendants have done worse. The instruments that 
they have used to accomplish the jumble are religion, conven- 
tion, expediency. Religion maintains that procreation save 
under the seal of matrimony is a sin; convention makes 
pariahs of those who essay it; and prudent, forward-seeing 
human beings uphold the family as the only safe rock upon 
which to perpetuate society, the ark of the covenant. 

Procreative capacity comes to living creatures after a 
definite period of existence; to mankind it comes after 
about fourteen years of life. To some it comes like a hurri- 
cane; to others like a warm wind in spring. It steals upon 
some like a thief in the night; it affronts others like an 
armed highwayman in full day. To some it does not come 
at all ; to others it comes but does not stay. To the male it 
seems to come far more blusteringly than to the female. 
This may be an entailment of her long bondage, an artefact 
of her artificial life. Its onset and early display, in women 
especially, vary with the nation and the race. It is widely 
held that Latin races are more easily upset by it than Anglo- 
Saxon. It is my experience that the reverse is true. It may be 
because for a number of years my contact in the Neurological 
Institute was with a race of great emotivity that I believe 
it comes with greater awareness to Jew than to Christian. 
It is unsafe to generalize; there is little uniformity in its 
onset or early manifestations. Many women have told me that 
they never experienced sexual feelings previous to marriage. 
In the majority of women it fc subordinate to love. 



286 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

Religion, conviction and expediency say it matters not 
how it comes, or how much comes; it is to be handled, man- 
aged, administered in the same way. They say so but nature 
says no, and the result is that the world is divided into three 
classes: antinomians who are in the vast majority; con- 
formers ; and cripples whose immobilities have resulted from 
fear engendered by threats of punishment by God, state 
and society should they transgress, and whose exhaustion 
is the result of battling with their most godlike possession 

Religion has not been very successful in keeping man 
continent. Its most widely conceived and perfectly admin- 
istered organization, the Roman Catholic Church, counsels 
and urges its adherents to marry soon after puberty, and 
the Talmud when its followers acquire sixteen years of age. 
But the state with forward look to its exchequer is averse 
to matrimony until the contractors have means of support 
or can gain them; and society is definitely in favor of post- 
poning marriages until the breadwinner of the team has got 
a good start on the roadway of life, and his helpmate has had 
some experience in peeping beneath men's masks to learn 
if they are kind, loyal and otherwise marriageable. Also man 
himself has become what he calls prudent what was once 
called more timid as he spins the evolutionary wheel. He 
hesitates to take on responsibilities that will burden him 
in the success race and handicap him in the pleasure race. 

As the result of all this, despite the Roman Catholic 
Church and orthodox Jewry, the average age when matri- 
mony is contracted steadily mounts. The sap of life courses 
through the human tree for ten years before it can legiti- 
mately be transmuted into blossom or leaf and before it can 
do its share toward bathing the world in beauty. 

The astonishing thing, then, is not that it often oozes 
through the cortex, but that it does not rush into limb and 
twig whenever it feels its bursting ascent. The wonder is 
that it can halt its ascent before reaching the arena of dis- 
play, and that it can do so repeatedly. 



THE SEX URGE, ITS ONSET AND MANAGEMENT 287 

The struggle to keep it back, the ruses adopted to stem 
it, the subterfuges employed to divert it from its legitimate 
channel, the labor expended in digging canals to carry the 
outflow, the unwillingness to admit its coursing these are 
the materials from which the devil fabricates psychoneuroses, 
from which he cuts the pattern of the semi-insane and whit- 
tles the square pegs to be thrust into round holes. 

Were I obliged to answer categorically the question: Is 
continence prejudicial to health? I should have to answer in 
the affirmative, but I should want to qualify my answer. I 
should want to say that this is one of the many things about 
which one cannot be dogmatic. To some it is injurious, to 
others it is not. Protracted continence, unless some other 
wish or determination can be substituted for the procreative 
desire, is not contributory to health or sanity. The determina- 
tion to save one's soul is not the only substitute. There are 
conditions under which continence may contribute to effi- 
ciency and happiness. Those conditions are that the indi- 
vidual should be proud of his creative possession and desires 
rather than ashamed of them; that the reward for keeping 
his jewels in their cases should be not the promise of 
happiness in the dead but in the quick the knowledge that 
he can offer them whole to one who is worthy of them. This 
makes it worth while to be continent. Things that are worth 
while are never injurious. 

It may be said that this is a variety of sublimation, and 
it is true. Love vaporizes the powerful urge and respect re- 
solidifies it. Self-sacrifice is the touchstone of nobility, self- 
control the patent. 

The same problem of control confronts everyone, though 
its clamor for solution varies with the individual, his tem- 
perament, age, race, and gait. If he is gaited to idealism and 
not to materialism, continence should make powerful appeal 
to him. 

Then comes the question: How long is continence com- 
patible with well-being? To which my answer is: the shorter 



288 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

the better. Man and woman individually would be healthier, 
happier and more efficient were they to gratify their genesic 
instinct soon after nature intended they should, but col- 
lectively they would doubtless be far worse off than now. 

Nature has provided mankind with sex safety valves. They 
are adequate if too much strain is not put upon them. It is 
wholly beyond belief that nature intended that they should 
last very long; probably until the sex dynamo develops its 
full capacity. 

Sex hunger clamors for appeasement in the majority of 
human beings soon after puberty, about the time when 
Minerva takes them in charge. Fortunately this clamor 
usually comes on so insidiously and develops so gradually 
that many are not even aware of its existence, but the world 
is full of things that increase the speed and is getting fuller 
every day. This same world says that it shall not be appeased. 
The result is that some eat of the forbidden fruit; others 
seek and readily find a substitute; a few go hungry. 

With the antinomians I am not here concerned save to 
pity them. They spill their vial of life's perfume before 
they have developed olfactory bulbs to appreciate it. When 
these grow after Minerva has discharged her duties the 
priceless essence has been exhausted. 

Those who abstain after they have reached the age of 
discretion have no problem, and if occasionally something 
looking like one thrusts up its head the church solves it 
for them. 

With those who find and use the substitute I have had 
much to do. Many of them are of the salt of the earth, mod- 
est, sensitive, temperamental, talented, 'often overburdened 
with emotional awareness and penetration. They are entitled 
to our counsel and to our guidance. 

Practically all men and a considerable proportion of 
women strive for and obtain some form of appeasement. 
Fortunately, in the majority the indulgence is moderate and 



THE SEX URGE, ITS ONSET AND MANAGEMENT 289 

the period of addiction comparatively brief. Sex enlighten- 
ment has already accomplished 9, great deal in this field. 

Vicarious sex appeasement, often spoken of as "the sin 
of youth/' is offensive to God and man. I base this statement 
on the tenth verse of the thirty-eighth chapter of Genesis 
and a life's experience with those who have indulged in it. 

It is, however, injurious to self-respect only. Indulgers feel 
themselves walking among their fellows with a need to 
conceal a shameful feature of their life; they dread the 
scorn that revelation would bring and they regard them- 
selves as whited sepulchers filled with unholy desires. 

The terrorizing admonitions of well-meaning but ill-advised 
and misinformed parents and teachers, and the ghastly lit- 
erature that worms its way into the hands of schoolboys and 
young men, which alleges, by word and picture, that physical 
decay and mental agony flow from such practices, are far 
more injurious to mind and body than the indulgence itself 
Onanism of any variety does not make an invalid or misfit 
of its practitioner The shame that it engenders, the fear 
that parents and physicians thrust upon him, tend to do so 
At one time it was charged with capacity to derange the mind. 
This accusation has been withdrawn. Its protracted indul- 
gence, and continuation of the practice after maturity comes, 
often testify a mind prone to lose its balance. Its recom- 
mendation as a therapeutic measure by psychoanalysts testi- 
fies their turpitude and their insensitiveness. 

Parent, teacher and victim may ask: "Then does it do no 
harm save to one's self-respect?" To the phlegmatic, none; 
to the hypersensitive, to those who overreact to pleasure or 
pain, kindness or cruelty, sights or sounds, it may do great 
harm. It makes them more timid, more bashful, more anti- 
social and it has a tendency to accentuate the amplitude ot 
their emotional waves, alternately to exalt and to depress 
them, and to increase the frequency of occurrence of such 
states. In other words, it prepares the soil for nervous, mental 
and emotional instability; it causes nervous and mental ex- 



2QO SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

haustion; it thrusts preoccupation and self-censure on the 
victim, and it is the worst training for matrimony. 

How the disgusting habit is formed depends upon the 
individual, his sx endowment and emotivity. In some it is 
the result of local irritation; in others, chance or accident 
initiates it, but usually it is a companion or a conversation. 
Rarely is it the continuation of a habit dating from early 
childhood. In some cases it is a bolt from the blue no 
warning, no suggestion, no teaching. The magazine is ready 
and a chance shock determines the explosion. In some intui- 
tive way or through warning, the youthful practitioner 
realizes that it is wrong and immediately he is seized with 
remorse. This remorse continues for a time and then gradu- 
ally spiritual appeasement comes. But after a while the 
tension increases again and there is the same search for 
relief; then repetitions, until the unfortunate young person 
feels that he is between the devil and the deep sea. Thus 
frequently the foundation of anxiety states, apprehension 
and self-solicitude is laid. If it is his good fortune to have 
a parent or a teacher with whom he is on terms of intimacy, 
he may be spared protracted suffering; on the other hand, 
he is often such a good boy that nothing of the sort is sus- 
pected and he has to carry his burden alone. Tact, kindli- 
ness, sympathy and understanding are the measures to use 
to prevent and to cure the habit. Threats, harshness and 
punishment are measures that are frequently used, and 
with small success. The masturbation which most young 
children practice usually ceases before sex consciousness 
develops. 

As the problem presents itself to me, the physician, it is a 
simple one: the function of human beings is to procreate. The 
male element must germinate the female element and to ac- 
complish it a specific embrace is essential. 

It is to the welfare of human beings, individually and 
collectively, that procreation be carried on by people who 
are married. 



THE SEX URGE, ITS ONSET AND MANAGEMENT 2QI 

It is a lie to teach that procreation or any step of it is a 
sin a cowardly, malicious lie. 

It is contemptible conduct, wholly beyond justification, 
to endeavor to impose continence upon those as yet bereft of 
understanding with threats of punishment after death. Does 
one value the respect of the community? Is the welfare of 
the world one's concern? One may secure the first and con- 
tribute to the second by refraining from sexual intercourse 
save in the marriage state. But marriage must not be too 
long delayed. If it is, the individual takes the chance of 
becoming a sexual cripple that is, of developing some 
sexual anomaly which will impede his usefulness and stultify 
his happiness. Amiel is a good example. 

Marriage is theoretically a sacrament, but practically it 
is a matter of economics. The question therefore arises: is 
the man or woman, powerless to solve the economic problem, 
justified in renouncing the pleasure and profit of carrying 
love to its full blooming? That is a question that everyone 
should be permitted to answer for himself, after he has 
reached the age of reason and found out that to trust to 
sense and conscience makes for greater happiness and use- 
fulness than to trust to instinct and emotion. Priest, moralist, 
pedagogue, physician, economist, statesman, are all entitled 
to an expression of opinion, to exhortation even, but to 
nothing more. The voice I raise is to say that none of them 
has the right to threaten or intimidate the individual, to 
freight him with the potentialities of disease, disorder and 
disequilibrium before he has sense or strength to handle 
them. 

Sex orientation is a problem for parents, not for priests. 
Priests who are parents do not seem to be more successful 
in dealing with it than those who are not. It should be no 
more difficult to teach children about sex than it is to teach 
them about God. It is a subject on which we do not lack 
specific information founded upon experience. 

There is no doubt that repression of sex desires modifies 



SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

character, dwarfs and biases emotions and predisposes to 
nervous and mental disorder. For that reason, such desires 
should be recognized, discussed and dispersed. To accomplish 
this means supervision of youth's life; its contacts with per- 
sons and things, its reading, diversions, exercise; its spiritual 
awakenment and enlightenment. The time to sublimate sex 
repressions is before they are repressed; the place, the 
home; the person to suggest it, the parent. 

But where do the majority of children get their sex in- 
formation? They get it from gutters and latrines, from 
vicious schoolfellows and from more vicious elders, and later 
they get it from pernicious pamphlets that mysteriously find 
their way to them and from books the sale of which is 
limited "to the medical profession, psychoanalysts, scholars 
and such adults who may have a definite position in the 
field of psychological or social research" but which anyone, 
regardless of sex, age, creed or color, may buy if he has the 
money; and they get it from fiction. Invariably this is 
misinformation. Some get instruction from teachers, a few 
get it from parents. Most of that is misinformation too. 
Parents tell me that their children are enlightened about sex 
in school, but when I encounter the children they are 
ignorant. There is one person from whom a child should 
get sex enlightenment: a parent. It is as much a parent's 
duty as providing food for it. What would be thought of a 
parent who shut off his child's food supply and what would 
society and the state do to him? The question need not be 
answered. What do they do to the parent who shuts off 
the most important source of the child's happiness and 
efficiency? They applaud him. 

When should a parent tell the child about sex? When it 
begins to ask questions. What should he or she tell the child? 
The truth. It is not necessary, not even prudent or advisable, 
to tell the whole truth. Neither the receptive apparatus nor 
the interpretive mechanism of the child is ready for it. In 
His wisdom God permits His mysteries to be submitted to 



THE SEX URGE, ITS ONSET AND MANAGEMENT 2Q3 

us gradually; some of them come only with senescence. But 
nothing save the truth should be told. The mother who tells 
her child that the stork or the doctor brings the brother or 
sister who is such a source of wonderment does it an injury 
that she can never compensate. She not only lies (which 
the child will soon discover and always remember) she in- 
flicts a wound which will leave a sensitive scar. We do not 
hesitate to tell children, even in their infancy and most 
dogmatically, things that are beyond proof and that we accept 
on faith ; why should we balk at telling them things we know, 
which it is vital for their spiritual welfare and physical 
health that they should know? "They are too young to know 
about such things," is the customary rejoinder. Then why 
were they given curiosity, the determining antecedent of all 
knowledge? Children have little or no curiosity about any 
feature of what is summarized by the words "religious train- 
ing." It is thrust upon them like food upon Strasbourg 
geese. But they have an insatiable appetite for information 
about nature and its display which centers in themselves and 
their kind. Hence their investigation of themselves and of 
those with whom they come in contact. 

We answer as best we can every question the child asks 
save the important one. When he asks that, we say, "Nice 
people don't talk about such things.' J Nice people don't, 
but wise people do. 

A child is never too young to be told that the baby comes 
from within the mother. Its supreme helplessness is so obvious 
even to a child that it will not marvel that the babe should 
have been hidden and protected there. If it does, there are 
countless analogies, such as the chicken and the egg, that 
will suffice to satisfy the young curiosity. Why should a 
mother be more ashamed of her womb than of her breast? 
The inquiring child sees the babe at her breast and realizes 
that it is thus being nourished. He can easily understand 
that once it was even more helpless and had to be provided 
for otherwise and elsewhere. But the mother will not explain 



2 94 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

and the result is that the child invents and fantasies and thus 
lays the foundation of a structure that will one day fall upon 
and crush him. The part that the father plays in the pro- 
creation of the child should be explained soon afterwards. 
The supreme embrace is but an exaggeration of the parental 
embrace which the child witnesses every day. He will display 
no more astonishment at its revelation, if properly explained, 
than he does at such familiar marks of affection, nor will he 
gabble his information. The only reason we should have 
compassion for the educated mother who does not know 
enough about flowers to explain sexual matters to her daugh- 
ter of seven is that we ourselves are compassed with infirmity. 
My experience has been that having the knowledge, she can- 
not be persuaded to enlighten her daughter of seven or 
seventeen save in exceptional instances. 

" Mother is the last person in the world to talk to me about 
such things/' was the stereotyped reply I received from 
nubile girls and young women brought to me for nervous 
disorder when my profession required that I investigate their 
sex life. Later when I charged mothers with their dereliction, 
the customary reply was: "When I attempted to talk to 
Julia about such matters, she stamped her foot and said 
ragingly, ' Mother, if you go on talking about those things 
I shall leave the room. I don't want to hear about them!' " 
The trouble was that mother had procrastinated. She was 
under the delusion that sex curiosity and sex feeling occur 
simultaneously, whereas one precedes the other by a decade 
or more. 

Fathers give a somewhat better account of their intelli- 
gence in dealing with their sons than mothers with their 
daughters. Nevertheless, it is astonishing to note the chances 
that many fathers take. I recall a splendid, highly intelligent 
boy who was not giving a satisfactory account of himself in 
school. During his first two years there he had never led 
his classes but he was always a close second to the leaders, 
and having habituated himself to concentration, he had 



THE SEX URGE, ITS ONSET AND MANAGEMENT 295 

earned a reputation for learning easily. Study had never 
been a bore and play had always been a delight for him. 
Now they were both antipathic, and he had become dis- 
tractible, morose, solitary and preoccupied. The marks of 
his examinations indicated that he had not the smallest 
chance of getting into college. Exhortation and threats hav- 
ing failed to improve matters, the director of the school sent 
him to me. Inquiry revealed an absorbing sex complex, which 
quickly yielded to explanation, enlightenment and assurance. 
His father, a conspicuous figure in the law, an executive and 
college president, and a pillar of the church, had never told 
him a word about the management of the tremendous force 
that seeps or sweeps into boys soon after their thirteenth 
year. 

It is in infancy and childhood that children should be 
taught about sex, when we instill into them the principles of 
morality: honesty, truthfulness, their relation to property 
and to persons, their rights and obligations to themselves, 
the community and the state. Children have to be taught 
how to manage all the features of the self-preservative urge, 
and we begin the instruction before they can lisp; why 
should they not be taught how to manage the race-preserva- 
tive urge as well, and before they can lapse? 

Lubricous Puritans have striven to make love's fulfill- 
ment a Gorgon Medusa, and prurient psychoanalysts have 
made it an Augean stable, but the world is finding a Perseus 
in the shape of Rights for Women and a Hercules in the 
shape of public enlightenment which are making ready to 
decapitate the one and clean the other. 

The church, by which I mean organized religion of any 
variety, has a large responsibility for the reputed uncleanli- 
ness of sex. Just so long as religion holds that debasement 
of the body not only enhances but determines elevation of 
the soul and that punishment and humiliation of the former 
contribute to and insure the salvation of the latter, it will 
stand as a bulwark against sex enlightenment and sex de- 



2Q6 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

cency. I express no opinion as to whether the church should 
be reformed, but I am sure that it will continue to have 
small determining weight in shaping the conduct of in- 
dividuals and nations so long as it continues some of its 
present and past day teachings. 

Human beings should be proud, not ashamed, of their 
sex and their potency, and prouder still that they can 
dominate its display. During their youth they should be 
told, by those they love and to whom they look up, the 
reasons for dominating it: why continence pays. Fright is 
the most treacherous of all levers. It is sure to break when 
the cause it is lifting to fortune is farthest from safety. 
The reasons for continence are no risk of disease to the body 
or death to the soul; the reason is that virtue is its own 
reward. The man or woman who brings to the love partner 
virginal offerings makes a priceless gift. The giver blends 
with the beauty of the universe, the recipient proclaims its 
joy. What is it in humans that excites our greatest admira- 
tion? Self-control and courage. In no way may they be more 
brilliantly displayed than in management of the sex urge. 

We think about sex a great deal of the time, waking and 
sleeping; we talk about it very little and both thinking and 
talking are surreptitious. We may not be ashamed to think 
about it but we are to talk about it, just the reverse of our 
ego urge. It is with the greatest difficulty that we refrain 
from talking of ourselves, but we are warned not to think 
about ourselves because introspection is bad for us. It would 
make enormously for our welfare here, and I think beyond, 
were we to balance our treatment of the two primitive urges. 
"Would you have people go about talking of their sex 
potency," I shall be asked, "its inhibitions and display, as 
they now talk about their attitude toward food, their lust 
for drink, their determination to be thin and how they 
achieve it?" Scarcely. But I would have them put their sex 
possession above every fortune that has been vouchsafed 
them. I would teach them neither to jeopardize it nor to 



THE SEX URGE, ITS ONSET AND MANAGEMENT 297 

squander it, but to utilize it to their happiness and welfare, 
and I would tell them that though sex tries constantly to 
suggest behavior, it usually succeeds only in influencing, not 
in determining it, and the smaller its success, the greater 
one's self-respect. I would tell them that the rumor spread 
by lyricists, and the message broadcast by novelists, that the 
joys of the world are circumscribed by sexuality are exag- 
geration and falsehood; sexuality sweetens life but it is not 
what makes life worth living. It is a priceless possession to 
be wreathed in pride, not wrapped in shame, to be lifted 
from darkness to light, from sin to virtue. 

There are some parental sins which should be labeled "un- 
forgivable." One is failure to tell children about sex; an- 
other is to tell them in such a way that it engenders fear 
and anxiety. Horace may be right in saying that though 
one be richer than the unrifled treasures of the Arabs or 
rich India, he shall not free his soul from fear, but parents 
can do a lot to prevent fear from entering their children's 
souls. We shall never be delivered of the burden that our 
way of looking upon sex has strapped upon us until we deal 
with it as we do with any other display of nature: in a simple, 
matter of fact way. 

If the parent has not the requisite tact, patience and in- 
telligence for this task, it should be intrusted to teachers. 
The enlightened rich would have no hesitation, because it is 
their custom to trust the bringing-up of their children to 
servants and teachers; the ignorant poor would protest at 
first, as they always do against every hygienic enforcement, 
and end by yielding. 

Though this is not a discussion of pedagogy, I must in- 
terpolate a word about teachers. My observation is that the 
teaching profession has more atypically sexed members than 
any other. This is a great misfortune. To no calling is nor- 
mal sexuality more becoming. Successful education of chil- 
dren rests on two fundamentals: love and facts. The person 



298 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

who has not both cannot be the ideal teacher. That is one 
of the reasons why celibacy and pedagogy are enemies. 

There should be a teacher of social hygiene attached to 
every public and private school. He should teach the prin- 
ciples of bodily and spiritual health. The obstacle to the 
success of such a department would be the teacher. Unless 
he were the right sort, could separate sheep from goats, 
venomous serpents from benign, and had the right outlook 
on life, more harm than good might result to the pupil. The 
right outlook is the biological one. To have sex taught by 
a celibate woman, stored with sex repressions, or by a pious 
man spiritually warped by vicarious sex appeasement in his 
youth, or by one whose sex endowment is feeble or errant, as 
is the case in so many private schools and colleges today, 
is to stage a tragedy. But the solution of the problem should 
not be beyond pedagogy and administration. A country that 
can accept the risk attached to the activities of so-called 
psychoanalysts would not be hazarding its chances of sal- 
vation by instituting departments of social hygiene in its 
schools. 

The teacher should instill into the child the elemental facts 
of biology without which no one can claim to be educated 
even though he can read, write, figure and poetize. Barriers 
to knowledge are lack of curiosity and of interest on the 
part of the pupil. Arouse his curiosity and interest and he 
will learn anything. There is no surer way to accomplish this 
than to point out the mysteries of his own organism and to 
show him how the web of life in nature is woven into the 
woof of life in man. Every child is always interested in his 
own body. He can be informed about it and its functions by 
being taught the life histories of familiar plants and of the 
lower forms of animal life. When the time comes in the 
course of instruction for the teacher to put before the pupil 
the facts of sex and reproduction, the child will be purged 
of prurient prudery and ready to accept a natural attitude 
toward sex and its display. He will realize that he is not a 



THE SEX URGE, ITS ONSET AND MANAGEMENT 2 99 

fountain of vileness and evil constantly seeking an outlet, 
but the most supreme expression of nature subtly and mas- 
terfully controlled by the supremest endowment of God, his 
spirit or soul. 

I can hear such a teacher explaining to the children on 
whom puberty is about to descend that time, patience and 
money had been expended to teach them how to manage 
their self-preservative urge. I hear him reminding them that 
they were trained like little animals while their intelligence 
was undeveloped, but that now, confronted with an urge 
that is oftentimes clamorous and sometimes imperious, they 
are endowed with the intelligence to direct, subdue and 
satisfy it. I hear him putting before these young aeronauts 
about to essay life's flights the things they should know 
about sex so that they may have successful adult love life, 
just as a physician explains to a young man about to start 
for Ecuador how he may avoid yellow fever and malaria. 
Naturally, I also see the bad boy or the incorrigible girl who 
is panting to escape from the class that he or she may inject 
some obscenity and ribaldry into the subject. Like the poor 
we shall always have them; they are one of our endurance 
tests. 

But if the matter is presented in a scientific spirit, it will 
be received by the vast majority of children as teachings of 
botany or of geography are. Proper parental supplementation 
will readily keep it out of the realm of pruriency. 

It is in some such way that sex hygiene should be taught 
these same children when they reach the age of puberty. 
Why should we tell them all about tuberculosis and leave 
them ignorant of syphilis from which the bulk of organic 
nervous diseases flow? Physicians know that the majority 
of diseases "peculiar to women" have their origin in a 
microscopic organism which husbands harbor without know- 
ing it, the relic of an infection that has perhaps even been 
forgotten. Yet it is considered immodest for a young woman 
to know the names of the diseases! Both of these diseases are 



300 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

preventable and curable, but every year they claim their 
victims by the thousands and all because parents have not 
the moral courage to enlighten their offspring. The only rea- 
son they can offer for not doing so is that it might be con- 
strued as a license to "immorality." There is a choice be- 
tween immorality and general paresis. 



THE SEXUAL AND MATERNAL INSTINCTS OF 
THE ADOLESCENT GIRL 1 

By Phyllis Blanchard 

WHILE Jung was of sufficiently philosophical turn of mind 
to enable him to develop the hypothesis of a great evolu- 
tionary force of life and the theory of the unconscious to the 
fullest extent, he was at the same time too much the scientist 
to neglect the fact that the vital impulse has a somatic as 
well as a psychic side. We find, therefore, that he describes 
the organism as equipped with an infinite variety of physical 
structures, the functioning of which is the physiological 
mechanism through which the clan vital, or libido, finds an 
outlet in manifold activities. The first expression is an en- 
tirely selfish one, and is the desire for nutrition which is 
manifested through the motor reflex of sucking in the human 
infant. 

In its broadest and most inclusive interpretation, this 
hunger-motif becomes one of the two great dominating fac- 
tors in the existence of mankind; the other is the sexual 
impulse, which, although the Freudians have demonstrated 
its activities at an exceedingly early age, attains its full sig- 
nificance only at the critical period of adolescence, which is, 
in a sense, a rebirth of the individual, since with its advent, 
there must be made readjustments almost as radical as those 
attending the transition from the prenatal state to the ex- 
ternal world. It follows that if we are to make an intelligent 
study of the adolescent girl, we must know something of the 
manner in which this second motive is manifested in her 
feelings and conduct, a knowledge which can be gained only 

1 From The Adolescent Girl. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 
1920. 

301 



3O2 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

by a concrete analysis of her erotic life in all its phases. 

The most obvious physiological phenomena which charac- 
terize the onset of puberty in the female sex are the estab- 
lishment of the periodic menstrual flow, and the rapid de- 
velopment of the mammary glands and other secondary 
sexual characters. Besides these, there is a less apparent but 
equally important change in the whole body metabolism, for 
as Blair Bell has shown, it is not merely the reproductive 
organs and their hormones which control the physical mani- 
festations of sexuality, but all the glands of internal secretion, 
acting together, which determine the erotic life of the indi- 
vidual. Bell concludes that before adolescence, there is very 
little difference between the metabolic processes of the male 
and female organisms; but at that period, the endocrinic 
glands, interacting harmoniously by means of mutual con- 
trol through the hormones which are produced by them, 
form a metabolic synthesis which may well be termed the 
sex complex and thus determine the degree of masculinity or 
femininity. 

There are thus seen to be two types of phenomena which 
compose the physiological side of adolescence: the specific 
sexual stimuli from the pressure of internal secretions formed 
within the reproductive glands proper, and a general change 
of feeling-tone which is conditioned by the functioning of 
the other glands of internal secretion. This second factor is 
not at all of a strictly sexual nature, but as Cannon and 
Crile have shown, is the common metabolic background 
characteristic of all powerful emotions, whether of fear, 
anger or sex. 

In the case of the adolescent girl the emotional state is 
of undoubted sexual origin, and is probably produced in re- 
sponse to hormone secretions from the ovaries, which stimu- 
late the other endocrinic glands to activity. It is the general 
sensations from this increased endocrinic functioning which 
produce the affective changes in the mental life of the 
adolescent girl, since in her case there is no direct source of 



THE INSTINCTS OF THE ADOLESCENT GIRL 303 

constant stimulation such as that furnished by the accumula- 
tion of spermatic fluid in the male. Moreover, this emo- 
tional energy does not require a specifically sexual outlet, 
for by its very metabolic nature, it is readily capable of 
passing over into some other emotion, such as anger, fear 
or religious ecstasy. However lightened may be her task of 
self-control on this account, the adolescent girl has never- 
theless entered upon the definitely sexual phase of her exist- 
ence, a phase which Dr. Frink has very well characterized 
in these words: 

"Sexual emotion, tension, or preparedness is less de- 
pendent on external situation than are other normal emo- 
tions. We do not feel continual normal anger or fear unless 
we are continuously subject to an external menace. But 
sexual tension, or preparedness, may arise in the absence of 
any external stimulation, and tends to persist until relieved 
by some suitable action, of which coitus, in the adult, is 
normally the most satisfactory one. Thus, in the absence of 
actions adequate in quality or in frequency to discharge the 
libido, there may come about a state of organic sexual pre- 
paredness which is chronic. (This does not mean that the 
individual need be continuously aware of sexual desire.) In 
other words, a lack of adequate sexual outlet (and by this 
is not meant simply abstinence from intercourse) may result 
in the accumulation in the blood of abnormal quantities of 
thyroid bodies, and perhaps of sugar, adrenin, and other 
substances which constitute also an important part of the 
state of preparedness for non-sexual exertion, such as attack 
or flight, and this very likely is accompanied by correspond- 
ing changes in the sympathetic-autonomic balance.' 7 

Correlated with this increased metabolic activity, there is 
an augmented sensibility of afferent nerves and end-organs, 
both visceral and peripheral, and it is upon the basis of 
this organic instability and readiness for reaction that we 
can best explain the conduct of the pubescent girl. Through 
all her seeming inconsistencies, she is seeking an outlet for 



3O4 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

the great reproductive energy which has thus taken pos- 
session of her being, and this motive, taken into considera- 
tion with the increased sensitivity of the afferent nervous 
system and the consequent exaggeration of motor response, 
furnishes the key for a right interpretation of her demeanor. 

The first evidences of the awakening vita sexualis in the 
young girl is an inordinate desire to attract attention from 
the opposite sex. Who has not observed the various ways in 
which the high school girl, while not admitting her motive 
even to herself, endeavors to draw the regard of her male 
companions? Incessant giggling seems to be a veritable 
disease with her, and although partly due to her new con- 
sciousness of sexual differences, and the tension of meeting 
social situations for which she as yet feels herself lacking 
in poise, it has also the ulterior purpose of attracting the 
glances of those erstwhile everyday comrades who are now 
surrounded by the glamour and fascination of their mascu- 
linity. 

In addition to these causes for the epidemic of giggling, 
G. Stanley Hall notes a more useful function, in that it 
forms one extreme of the hedonic scale whereon the emo- 
tions play up and down, in preparation for the joys and 
sorrows which must be experienced later, in contact with 
real life. The opposite extreme of the pain-pleasure scale is 
apparent in the tendency shown by the adolescent girl to 
weep at the least occasion, or even with no occasion at all. 
Sometimes she seeks the solitude of her room or of some 
outdoor nook to indulge in the luxury of tears, especially 
if their flow is simply the result of nervous fatigue and 
tension. More often she uses them to obtain the love and 
sympathy of which she cannot have too much at this time, 
and finds them a potent means to gain the affection which 
she craves to a degree almost abnormal in its intensity. 

Even more eloquent of her desire to prove attractive in 
the eyes of others is the passionate love of dress which pos- 
sesses the girl in her teens. Watch the girls on their way to 



THE INSTINCTS OF THE ADOLESCENT GIRL 305 

school. The kaleidoscopic nature of feminine fashions does 
not dismay them they follow the modes with the dexterity 
and nonchalance of practiced lightning change artists. But 
whatever the fashion, the same adolescent tendency is ex- 
hibited, happy the girl whose dress is more strikingly of 
the hour than the daring styles worn by her mates. The 
vogue for colors is as inconstant as that of liries, and no one 
can prophesy what shade the future will bring forth, yet 
we may rest assured that we shall see it in hair ribbons and 
sport coats the very instant that it is first rumored in the 
latest magazines. The Mary Pickford curls have gone the 
way of the pompadour, and styles of bobbing change; but 
the young girl has little thought for past styles in hair- 
dressing, her one concern is to see that her newly put-up 
locks are arranged according to the latest vogue. And so it 
goes, until we wonder when they ever find time to look at 
the books they carry under their arms, and whether there 
is ever any thought in their minds beyond the fascinating 
subject of dress. 

It is to be noted that another motive may lurk beneath 
this love of adornment than the naive desire to arrest the 
roving attention of a male. With the dawn of adolescence 
comes a new self-consciousness as the awakening sexual and 
social instincts induce comparison with others and emphasize 
personal deficiencies hitherto disregarded. Psychologists have 
recognized that every piece of apparel serves to extend the 
personality, becoming, as it were, an integral part of the 
wearer's own ego. Hence the adolescent girl seeks to re- 
enforce her self-respect and conceal her failings under the 
gaudy attire which she assumes. Thus she accomplishes a 
double purpose, winning the admiration of the other sex at 
the same time that she wards off social humiliations, which 
are agonizing to her new-born consciousness of self. 

So deep is the adolescent longing for attention and sym- 
pathy, and so keen the sorrow over personal failings and 
criticism, that the girl is prone to indulge in long fantasies 



306 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

wherein she pictures herself lying cold and still in death 
while a throng of friends and relatives laud her to the skies 
as they mourn her untimely demise. Oversensitive to the 
least rebuke, which she interprets as a symbol of lost affec- 
tion, she also thinks of death as a fitting revenge upon 
parents or others in authority who have denied her wishes, 
or treated her harshly. If any proof were needed to demon- 
strate the fact that at this time of life the death wish is 
most foreign to the whole organic make-up, which is never 
more flushed with the joy of living, the very attitude of the 
girl in these reveries would furnish it. Never does she con- 
ceive of death as the absolute end of all things. Instead she 
always pictures her feelings as she stands apart and sees 
the mourners gathered around her body and hears their re- 
gret and praise. She only dreams of what would happen // 
she were dead. 

When the adolescent girl really does commit suicide, and 
occasionally she does do it in more than a day-dreaming 
way, it is because of actual mental disease or emotional 
conflict which only the psychoanalyst can understand. At 
the period of adolescence, the necessity of transferring the 
libido from infantile fixations to goals which have a wider 
social relationship becomes insistent. With normal individ- 
uals, this transference is made with little apparent struggle, 
but with neurotics, there may be a flight from the too stern 
realities of adult existence, and a seeking for refuge in 
insane delusions and neurotic obsessions, or even in an 
attempt to seek a pleasant oblivion like that of the prenatal 
state in death. Thus, the very will to live, unable to make 
proper adjustments, and with its energy turned in upon 
itself, torments the soul in its futile attempts to find expres- 
sion until it succeeds in the utter negation of its own pur- 
posive impulse. 

After the first general reaction toward any member of the 
male sex, there follows a period in the career of the ado- 
lescent girl when she begins to exercise her powers of dis- 



THE INSTINCTS OF THE ADOLESCENT GIRL 307 

crimination to a slight extent, and to evince a preference 
for some particular individual among her acquaintances. 
Ordinarily, this choice depends upon certain physical traits 
which become veritable erotic fetishes upon which the young 
girl lavishes her devotion, while the personality below them 
is a minor detail. G. Stanley Hall, Slaughter, Smith, and 
others, have noticed this fetishistic tendency, and commented 
upon its common occurrence and dominating influence in 
the girl's life. It is noteworthy that the various characteris- 
tics which are thus idolized are all more or less intimately 
connected with sex from a genetic viewpoint, for Scharlieb 
and Sibley have remarked, as have other writers, that the 
hair, eyes, complexion, etc., grow brighter or clearer at 
puberty, while Holmes has emphasized the fact that the 
voice, laugh, etc., had their origin in the mate calls of our 
animal forefathers. It is safe to conclude that concealment 
of the primary organs of reproduction has resulted in the 
focusing of the attention upon the secondary sexual charac- 
ters, so that these have become as stimulating to the senses 
as were the genitalia proper when our ancestors first as- 
sumed the upright position that brought them into promi- 
nence. 

Quite as pronounced as the fixation on erotic fetishes is 
the ideal love for an older person which is almost invariably 
a part of every girl's development. This, too, has been re- 
marked by a large number of authors, Kohl and Slaughter 
having given it especial attention. The psychoanalysts re- 
gard it as a normal stage in the transition of the libido from 
its fixation on the parent to its final goal outside the family 
group. To what lengths this infatuation for an elder person 
can carry an impulsive girl, is beautifully illustrated in the 
autobiography of a prominent woman writer of the day, 
published anonymously under the title Me: A Book of 
Remembrance. 

After several interesting adventures, the heroine, an 18- 
year-old Canadian girl, "picks up" a traveling acquaintance 



308 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

who occupies her thoughts thenceforth. By the time he has 
rendered her timely assistance in her endeavor to gain a 
livelihood, she is desperately in love with him, and begs him 
to say that her affection is returned. She bends all her energies 
to living up to what she believes to be his idea of her. 

"I deliberately blinded myself to every flaw in Roger," 
she states. "His selfishness and tyranny I passed over. It was 
enough for me that he descended into my life for a few days 
each month and permitted himself to be worshiped like a 
God. . . . Lolly called my love for him an infatuation. . . . 
She said that I was a hero-worshiper, and made impossible 
ideals of unworthy clay and endowed them with fictitious 
traits and virtues. She said girls like me never really loved a 
man at all. We loved an image we ourselves created. " 

Whether it is a real love or no, under its impulsion Nora 
is spurred on to do more than one act which she regrets bit- 
terly afterward. Because Roger seems loath to declare his 
affection, she feels that her sentiments are not returned, and 
in wounded pride, takes pleasure in becoming engaged to 
other men, no less than three simultaneously, in order 
that she may prove the attractiveness which he thus treats 
so slightingly. Only when she makes the heart-breaking dis- 
covery that her idol is not only a married man but one of 
notoriously bad morals as well, does she attempt to control 
her madness, and instead of accompanying Roger on a trip 
to his hunting lodge, begins her life anew in devotion to her 
chosen profession. 

Perhaps the best summary of this love of the young girl 
for a man much older than herself, although it neglects the 
psychoanalytic interpretation, is to be found in these words 
of Slaughter's: 

" There is in the love of the older person a larger element 
of respect and the mystery of complete development, joined 
as a rule with sympathetic and gracious treatment. The situ- 
ation is often one that gives opportunity for beneficial in- 
fluence and guidance ; the older person must not be flattered 
too much by adolescent affection ; it is a passing phase and 



THE INSTINCTS OF THE ADOLESCENT GIRL 309 

involves the projection of an ideal to which the older person 
may, in reality, only remotely approximate. " 

The psychoanalytic school would offer the explanation 
of a father substitute to account for the fixation of the young 
girl upon an elderly man. 

The indefinite feeling of attraction which the adolescent 
girl at first feels toward the opposite sex, is often replaced, 
a little later, by a state in which a very conscious element of 
physical sexual desire predominates. That there is vast in- 
dividual variation in regard to this is obvious to anyone who 
has observed the adolescent girl even in a cursory and idly 
speculative fashion. The reason for this wide variation, as 
Blair Bell has shown, is to be found in the metabolism of the 
ductless glands. This endocritic theory, while undoubtedly 
correct, does not explain the absence of a similarly broad 
degree of difference in the case of individuals of the male 
sex. In order to understand this phenomenon more clearly, 
we must seek the aid of genetic psychology, and it is just 
there that we find further facts which furnish u with an 
adequate explanation. 

In the beginning of human life as such, man, like all other 
animals, had a definite mating season, of which traces remain 
even to this day. In proof of this statement, Havelock Ellis 
quotes examples of the outbreaks of venery that occur 
among the primitive tribes of Africa and Australia in the 
spring and fall, and among the Eskimos at the end of the 
long winter during which they are devoid of sexual desire. 
Other evidences are found in the May Day and Harvest 
festivals of the rural British population and in the holiday 
celebrations of the European peasantry at these times of the 
year, which tend to assume orgiastic characters. The Chinese 
holiday called "Walking on the Green" is the survival of the 
old springtime mating ceremony. A less obvious trace of the 
old periodic function of sex is the favoritism accorded to 
June weddings, which have become traditional, and the 



310 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

universally prevalent outbreak of "spring fever," which owes 
its origin to the restlessness created by sex tension. 

As Corin points out, when the struggle for existence be- 
came less acute with man's increasing mastery of his environ- 
ment, the necessity for a definite breeding season passed 
away, and the human species lost the pairing season which 
natural selection has generally preserved throughout the 
animal kingdom. The bi-pedal position, the loss of hairy 
covering, the intimate throwing aside of garments and the 
huddling together in the cave-dwellings, and the use of the 
hand for purposes of stimulating desire, all tended to focus 
the attention on the organs of reproduction, and to empha- 
size sexuality as it had never been emphasized. The vast fund 
of energy which man had developed in his long battle with 
the environment and with other men, now turned to the sex 
function as an easily accessible and pleasant outlet, and he 
demanded that his mate give up all vestige of her old peri- 
odicity of function, in order that he might satisfy his new 
passion. 

It was at this time that woman lost her place as the free 
and equal comrade of man. Previously, her share in social 
progress had been as great as his, for as Mason has shown, 
while he had been developing militarism, she had been ini- 
tiating and perfecting industrialism. Now, however, man 
came to see in woman, in place of the co-worker, an object 
wherewith to gratify his lust. There was produced, by the slow 
process of natural selection, a race of wives too weak to resist 
such treatment, together with a second type who came to 
possess the ability to feel the sexual impulse at all times, 
with only traces of the old periodicity. Thus there came into 
being the erotic and maternal types distinguished by Ellis, 
Forel, and others, with all degrees between these two ex- 
tremes. It is an undisputed fact that these types exist today, 
and it is herein that we have an explanation for the varying 
degrees of sensuality which are characteristic of the ado- 
lescent girl as of the adult woman. 



THE INSTINCTS OF THE ADOLESCENT GIRL 3! I 

The adolescent girl who is most deficient in the sexual 
side of her life may complete her existence without feeling 
any noticeable sexual desire; indeed, physicians report that 
they find a large number of cases in which female patients 
are utterly unable to experience any such feeling, and hence 
find their marriage vows extremely irksome. Repression of 
sex feelings in harmony with the demands of society must 
also be considered in accounting for these types. In some 
instances, auto-erotic practices interfere with the develop- 
ment of normal impulses. 

Normally, the physical sensations of sex longing do ap- 
pear in women during some period of their adolescence. 
They are usually very much intensified just preceding men- 
struation, and again after the third day or so from the 
beginning of that function, becoming relatively quiescent 
midway between two menstrual periods. Some girls say that 
it becomes so strong at this time as to prove a temptation 
to masturbation or to illicit intercourse. Often this feeling 
is first aroused by an accidental touch, for touch is inti- 
mately connected with the reproductive function. One girl 
states that she experienced her first sensual thrill when her 
bosom touched that of her partner during the dance; an- 
other that her first sensation of this kind was received as she 
clung to her escort in an agony of terror; and many are thus 
awakened by the kisses and caresses of their lovers. Most 
often, the waking consciousness succeeds in inhibiting a sen- 
sation that it has been taught to regard as sinful, and it is 
carried over into the dream life, where such vigilant censor- 
ship is impossible, due to the relaxation of the higher nerve 
centers in sleep. 

Until the psychoanalytic practice came into being, the 
dream life of the adolescent girl, like that of everyone else, 
was in large measure a sealed book, but with the aid of 
careful analyses made by Freud, Jung and their followers, 
we can at least formulate some general statements which 
will hold true in the majority of instances. To Dr. Sigmund 



312 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

Freud belongs the credit for giving us a key for the inter- 
pretation of dreams, a contribution as significant for the 
proper understanding of the psychic life of the adolescent 
girl as it has been in the treatment of neurotic cases, in 
which connection it was evolved. Stated in the briefest pos- 
sible terms, the Freudian theory holds that the dream is the 
fanciful fulfillment of a suppressed wish, which the waking 
consciousness will not admit into its ken, but which escapes 
from this inhibitive influence or censorship, during sleep, 
and runs riot in the dream life. 

It is hardly surprising that the unconscious sexual desires 
form a large part of this suppressed impulsive energy, for 
their normal satisfaction is very often incompatible with 
established social standards, and the dictates of conscious 
morality even go so far as to forbid the slightest thought of 
their existence. So deeply, indeed, is the necessity of deny- 
ing such wishes impressed upon the mental life that very 
often the sexual meaning of the dream itself has to be cun- 
ningly hidden in order to escape the vigilance of the censor, 
so that there must be distinguished in the dream content a 
whole series of symbolisms which have received an erotic 
meaning through the old phallic ceremonials of ancient re- 
ligions, although their sexual meaning has long since been 
obliterated from the conscious memory of the race, and per- 
sists only in the submerged levels of the unconscious psyche. 

The suppression of any crudely sexual desire, even in 
dreams, is especially typical of women, because they have 
been taught for centuries that passion was the unique posses- 
sion of the male organism, while the female merely sub- 
mitted to this sinful act in order to insure the birth of off- 
spring. Thus it has happened that former students of sex 
psychology have noted the sexual dreams of the man who is 
practicing continence, but have been strangely silent as to 
the experiences of women along this line. The psychoanalysts, 
however, have broken through this barrier of delicate reserve, 
and have described symbolic dreams of purely sexual charac- 



THE INSTINCTS OF THE ADOLESCENT GIRL 313 

ter which they have brought to light in their treatments of 
nervous diseases. An especially good example of such a dream 
in the case of an adolescent girl who came to him for treat- 
ment is described by Dr. Frink in his latest book. 

Miss Sunderland, the patient in question, dreamed "that 
she was struggling with a large, long-nosed, gray dog which 
was trying to bite her, while she endeavored to prevent it 
by holding its mouth shut with her hand. The dog finally did 
bite her somewhere in the thigh. She saw a little blood flow 
from the wound, and then she awakened, terrified. This is 
evidently a sexual dream. Its symbolism is very typical. 
Young girls are apt to conceive of sexuality as something 
animal-like or violent. When, therefore, a girl dreams of 
some violent attack or assault, one can feel assured that she 
has in mind something sexual. And when this attack results 
in the shedding of blood and is followed by swelling of the 
body, the analogy to defloration and a resulting pregnancy 
is so striking that there need be little doubt as to what the 
dream means. " In this case, further analysis showed that the 
dog of the dream represented a young man with whom Miss 
Sunderland was really in love, though hesitating to admit it, 
and whom she finally married. 

An elaborate set of the sexual symbolisms which most 
frequently occur in these erotic dreams has been worked out 
by the psychoanalysts, and is probably more or less uni- 
versally applicable, although it is far from being the all- 
inclusive content of the dream psyche which was at first 
claimed for it, as further analytic work with cases of war 
shock has shown. Herbert Silberer, too, has emphasized the 
multiple factors of dream interpretation, and concludes that 
its symbolisms not only veil a suppressed wish of lowly 
somatic origin, but also express the idealistic strivings of 
mankind to sublimate this unconscious energy into forms 
which shall be higher and more beneficial to the individual 
and to society, just as the alchemists of old tried to trans- 
mute the baser metals into pure gold. 



314 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

It has been the habit of psychologists to deal with the 
sexual dream of the girl as entirely symbolical, if at all 
occurrent, for the assumption is made that she never ex- 
periences the definitely sexual dreams of her brother. Ex- 
change of confidences with other girls has justified the con- 
clusion that this is an entirely erroneous impression, for the 
adolescent girl very often dreams of ardent love-making with 
some man of her acquaintance, or even with someone who 
is an entire stranger to her waking thoughts. Often these 
dreams end with the fantasy of sexual intercourse, and even 
result in a complete sexual orgasm. Day-dreams, too, may 
take on a specifically erotic character, particularly in the 
case of girls who have been involved in more or less ardent 
love affairs and who are temporarily forced to forego the 
accustomed caresses of the lover. 

There is one other aspect of the sexual instinct in the 
adolescent girl which has received all too little attention 
except as it has been seen in manifestations so extreme as 
to be pathological in nature. Intimately connected with the 
emotion of sex, as the psychoanalysts have noted in their 
studies of neurotics, is the sentiment of fear. In woman, 
the fear element is especially predominant, not only because 
the results of sexual intercourse are more involved in her 
case, but because for the inexperienced, at least, a vast body 
of tradition emphasizes this element, the fear of defloration 
pains, the horror of passion which she has often been taught 
is unwomanly, and in cases of extreme ignorance, dread of 
the unknown processes of the sexual act itself. 

In the face of so many terrors it is to be wondered that 
almost every girl dreams of marriage, and more especially 
is it astonishing that so many defy conventional morality to 
become mothers outside the sanction of wedlock. In order 
to understand this apparent courage, we must recollect the 
.masochistic tendency which is to some extent a part of the 
female sexual nature. Through a long biological history, 
man has been the aggressor to whose advances woman pas- 



THE INSTINCTS OF THE ADOLESCENT GIRL 315 

sively yielded her charms; he has been the wooer, she the 
wooed. And this long accustomed compliance with the de- 
sires of the more ardent male, necessary for the continuation 
of the race, has become the natural heritage of woman, so 
that the impulse to yield to her mate, lawful or otherwise, 
is stronger than all the fears of present or future pains which 
may result. Thus it is that we see in our present social system 
the wife who is faithful to a brutal husband and the girl 
who is a social outcast, both equally anomalous until we 
recognize that the masochistic sacrifice of self is a funda- 
mental concomitant of the sexual life of womankind. 

These generalizations concerning the sexual instinct of the 
adolescent girl are more forcibly illustrated by some of the 
concrete examples which led to their formulation. Except 
for the description of Mary MacLane, which is drawn from 
her books, the exact words of the girls are quoted. Nearly 
all the girls who have been under close observation are the 
college and university type, and this makes their cases the 
more significant when it is remembered that many of them 
have been brought up under the strictest possible code of 
repression, so that for a long time their sex life was wholly 
a matter of instinctive response, unguided by any definite 
information. It is my impression, gathered during two sum- 
mers' work with factory girls (not in social welfare, but as 
co-worker with them, so that the observations were per- 
fectly free and natural), that with girls of this class the 
awakening of physical sexual desire is earlier and more 
intense. This is due partly to their different environment in 
which the sexual side of life receives more emphasis, and 
partly to the fact that they lack adequate means for subli- 
mating their biological energy into intellectual and artistic 
effort. 

Mary MacLane carries her sensualism over into every other 
sensory domain, so that the red line of the sky at sunset 
becomes a symbol of the passion which shakes her body, the 
feel of her garments and even the prosaic eating of food be- 



316 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

comes tinged with erotic pleasure. But far from being con- 
tented with these symbolic and substitute erethisms, she 
longs most intensely for the hour which shall give her the 
supreme satisfaction of physical love in its intensest form, 
and all her day-dreams center upon the supreme height of 
her ambitions. Her dream-partner is visualized as a gray- 
eyed gentlemanly devil, who may ruin her soul if he will, 
so long as he gives her the supreme satisfaction which her 
being craves. Thus all her desires converge to the moment 
in which she can experience in her own person that acme of 
pleasure, sexual love. One does not wonder that when she 
writes her third book, Mary confesses that she has never 
found her dreams realized, for such elaborate visions, what- 
ever their theme, could scarcely hope to find their counter- 
part in the w r orld of reality. It is noteworthy that in this last 
volume, too, she replaced her first dreams of a lover with 
quite as passionate a fantasy of little dream-children whom 
she holds in her arms, and warms against her breast. 

Case i. 2 My ideal of life after college is marriage, with 
opportunity to continue work in designing. My plans and 
interests have broadened with my increase in knowledge. For 
instance, before entering high school my highest ambition 
was to be a public speaker and wear a black spangled gown, 
for I had once seen a reader so dressed and greatly admired 
her. 

Quality of work is lowered during the first part of menstru- 
ation, increased during the last part. Marked mental depres- 
sion during first two days of menstruation, followed by an 
opposite mental attitude. Languid for first two or three days, 
then emotions greatly increased in intensity, desire to dance, 

2 These reports were obtained from friends, and girls who wrote 
me at the request of mutual friends, in answer to very plain ques- 
tionnaires. I have given the selected answers verbatim, at the risk 
of reproducing irrelevant material, because they afford such remark- 
able insight into the mind of the adolescent girl. The questions con- 
cerned day-dreams, erotic dreams, experience at menstruation, ideals 
for the future, religious beliefs, etc. The last question (on religious 
beliefs) has no bearing on the subject of this chapter, therefore the 
answers to it are omitted from the reports. 



THE INSTINCTS OF THE ADOLESCENT GIRL 317 

etc. Yes, I know that a girl who has had no actual sexual 
experience can have dreams of that nature. In myself, they 
occur after a dance, or any occasion where there has been 
unusual sexual stimulus. I have spring fever, too, which is 
similar to the emotion before and after menstruation. It 
seems to be due to an accumulation of superfluous energy, 
and I usually indulge in some strenuous exercise. 

Case 2. When I entered high school, I had no plans further 
than going to college so as to have some good times, living in 
a dormitory. Then, towards the end of my course, I realized 
that after college one earned one's own living. I thought it 
would be delightful to be a librarian, for one who loved books 
must be happy if always with them. But after applying for 
entrance at Simmons, I solemnly decided that I'd better not 
become a librarian, since all I knew of that species were 
withered old maids.' I then thought it would be so satisfying 
to have taught school, and be able to say of great men, "I 
used to teach him." After a few years of teaching I wanted 
something tangible as a result of my work, so I decided to 
become a trained nurse. Only one friend approved this idea. 
Finally in selfish desperation, I planned on a delightful time 
studying German at college. Then I was surprised to find my 
dreams realized in the science of sociology. 

For a while the fascination of psychology lured me away 
from sociology, but I gave that up as I had given up nursing. 
Jones' book on psychoanalysis made the work of an alienist 
the most attractive that could be done, just as Alice Free- 
man's life and Jane Addams' Twenty Years at Hull House 
made an unselfish life seem attractive. 

I am always depressed at the menstrual period. Consider 
myself a failure, unworthy of success. The third day I have 
always been very lonely, and strongly attracted by the idea 
of masturbation. Still, I always feel with unusual strength 
the sanctity of sex at this time, so that I never experience 
any rebellion against the occurrence of menstruation. 

When I was seven, my father told me that the baby sister 



318 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

came out of mother, not out of the doctor's bag. . . . Two 

years ago, Dr. X said something about a woman who 

was trying to appear young. He knew that she was older 
than she said, because he had known her for years. Besides, 
she had had a Csesarean operation when her child was born. 
Did I know what that was? No? Well, right then I learned 
that babies were not commonly born through the navel. From 
Havelock Ellis I learned all else there was to know about sex. 
It was marvelously interesting. For the first time in my life, 
I became curious, but Ellis went into so much detail that 
my curiosity was satisfied before it was aroused, almost. I 
earnestly hoped I was normal sexually, and despised women 
who were not. Marriage seemed a much more definite thing, 
and more interesting, really a career in itself. Men now 
seemed different from women. They all appealed to me rather 
strongly for a time, but gradually I was forced to find sub- 
limation, as I found that I did not appeal to them any more 
than I ever had. My fondness for children ran a parallel 
course with my desire for masculinity. 

In my nineteenth year, I remember being much shocked 
at my moral depravity because of two dreams. In the first, 
I was sitting on a beam in the barn with a grammar school 
boy pal, when I felt very much elated in a peculiar manner 
because my bare foot touched his, and we swung our feet 
together a moment without speaking. Not many nights later, 
I dreamed I went down through a hole in the ground, as did 
Alice in Wonderland, till I came to a beautiful garden. Here, 
a radiant man, naked, embraced me with his hands and feet 
so that we seemed welded together. After reading Havelock 
Ellis I dreamed several times of having sexual intercourse. 

I used to think it was simply preordained that somewhere 
in this big world there was a man whom I should meet in the 
far future, who would be the perfect complement of myself. 
We would love each other when we met, and until death. I 
never would do any cooking, so he must be willing to eat 
raw food. My career would not be interrupted. We would 



THE INSTINCTS OF THE ADOLESCENT GIRL 319 

have fifteen children, who would take care of each other. 
Now, I have been seriously looking at every man I meet, but 
I do not find him. I realize that I may never find him. But 
it does not mean so much to me as T used to suppose that it 
would. It means simply a choice between a narrow and a 
wide circle of interest. For children do not take care of each 
other. And I don't think I'd like to eat raw food myself. 
My day-dreams are of success, and of self-sacrifice. I have 
never dreamed of lovers or of love in them. 

Case 3. During menstruation I am weaker physically and 
overcome with weariness for a day, sometimes, but I do not 
notice any tendency to be irrational, excitable or morbid. I 
am simply depressed somewhat by physical languor and 
sometimes pain. I have attacks of spring fever, but have not 
noticed any similar difference near the menstrual period. I 
should say my spring fever was attacks of the blues, due to 
nervous fatigue, discouragement in my work, and desire for 
masculine company, to put it mildly. I find relief in physical 
exercise, or work, or writing, usually to someone. 

At the age of ten, my mother explained most of the 
physiological phenomena concerned with reproduction, and 
showed me the big colored illustrations in my grandfather's 
medical books. I was assured in beautiful language that it 
was all very lovely, but it took me some years to have any 
respect for sexual intercourse or see anything but pain and 
horror in childbirth. At present, though I love children, I do 
not like the idea of being tied down. If I could combine my 
ambitions with married life and motherhood without hurting 
either, I should be most happy. I cannot tell which call 
will prove the strongest, but at present it seems that art is, 

I cannot recall definitely any erotic dream, though I often 
have them. They are usually vague, unconventional, but not 
naughty. Complete sexual experience is not necessary for 
erotic dreaming. My sexual experience has been all but com- 
plete, and I have dreamed only a small part of it, such as 



32O SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

kissing, physical contact and pressure, but other girls of my 
acquaintance have dreamed all this and more. 

When I was about thirteen, my day-dreams were romantic 
adventures with handsome men. With the more picturesque 
events, such as narrow escapes from being murdered by 
brigands, etc., I imagined all the ramifications of sexual ex- 
perience. This last I do today, but with added details taken 
from real life. Books do not tell us so much of the actual 
workings of such things. Nowadays, my day-dreams are less 
romantic, and get down to business. I imagine myself being 
charmingly caressed and supported (bodily, of course). I am 
delightfully passive and dependent in some strong man's 
arms, but I also imagine living a humdrum existence with 
him. A very common dream is partly memory amplified. 
I go over in my mind two or three love affairs, adding and 
guessing what might have happened, and ending up with a 
feeling of relief that I was not carried off my feet and tied 
up with a wretched, unsuited existence. 

Case 4. My plans for the future have changed a great deal 
since I entered high school. Then, my ambition was to be- 
come an actress. I had no great appreciation of dramatic 
art, but the excitement and glamour of the stage appealed 
to me strongly. In my junior year of high, a very wonderful 
English teacher made me feel that a life of service was more 
important than anything else. I adopted the idea of being 
"an angel of the slums, " and felt that in order to gain my 
life I must first lose it. This ideal remained with me in a 
somewhat modified form until my junior year in college, 
when the fascination of zoology decided me to become a 
doctor. I do not know how I shall find the life of service, 
even yet. 

I have never noticed any marked difference in the quality 
of my work at menstruation. It does not seem to affect my 
mental or physical condition in the least, as it does those of 
most girls, but I am a little weakened physically. After the 



THE INSTINCTS OF THE ADOLESCENT GIRL 32! 

first half day, I can see little change from my normal condi- 
tion. 

No one has ever given me definite information concerning 
sexual matters, and it was a long time after the first menstru- 
ation that I received any information at all, probably I was 
about sixteen. Nearly all I know has been gathered from 
scattered reading, hearsay, and certain zoology courses. At 
times my lack of knowledge has given me some grave fears, 
and made me nervous in having anything to do with men. 
I have never, since I was a tiny child, cared as much for 
men as for women, but I have never felt any repugnance to 
them. If I ever met a man who came up to my ideal, and 
who loved me as I should want to be loved, I should marry 
him without hesitation. I never felt particularly favorable 
to the idea of having children. I must confess that it is 
repugnant to me in every way, and then, children are such 
an uncertain lot. However, if I loved enough to marry, which 
is doubtful, no sacrifice would be too great. 

I can recall no erotic dreams, and have heard very little 
about them from other girls. 

Case 5. I read a great deal from seven years or so up to 
the time I went to college. Reading has given me most of 
my cultural interests and many of my ideals. In college, I 
liked English and history for the subjects themselves, and 
sociology and politics because of the teachers. 

I am not sure as to the effect of menstruation on the qual- 
ity of work done. The quantity is less, and there is more 
effort, I have no pain, but am languid and lazy, cry easily. 
I find no marked effect on the sexual emotions. Am apt to 
be discouraged or irritable the day before the beginning of 
the menstrual period. 

After an experience with a playmate in mutual masturba- 
tion at nine or ten, I repented, and turned to better ways. 
I had two bitterly repented lapses at twelve and fourteen. 
At eighteen, I was more often tempted, but my lapses were 
few and far between, and from twenty-one to twenty-four I 



322 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

had a record free from masturbation. During this period of 
repression, the denied desire expressed itself in very vivid 
dreams. I would wake thinking the dream had been real, 
then realize it to be a dream with mingled feelings of shame 
and relief. 

My day-dreams center around a home clearly visualized. 
I picture myself as the mother of a large family, but their 
father is a shadowy being. My dreams about special men are 
always concerned with going somewhere, dancing, etc. 

Case 6. My dreams of the future have always been more 
or less influenced by favorite teachers, I believe. In high 
school, encouraged by a beloved teacher, I determined to go 
to college and prepare myself for a life of teaching mathe- 
matics, but once there chemistry and physics lured me, as I 
liked the teachers of those subjects. Of course, the subjects 
themselves opened up new and hitherto unexplored fields to 
my exploring, mind, but without inspiring teachers, my in- 
terest would have waned, as it did in mathematics. 

At the menstrual period I have marked attacks of mental 
depression. There is little or no physical pain, though I am 
more apt to have some pain than formerly, probably on ac- 
count of increased sexual tension and nervous strain. Work 
requires an effort of the will, and causes extreme fatigue. I 
experience marked increase of sexual desire just before the 
beginning of the menstrual period, and again after the third 
day of that function. I also have very vivid erotic dreams at 
this time. These dreams began when I was twenty-one, and 
have recurred frequently ever since. Sometimes I awaken 
before the act is completed, but more often, an entire sexual 
orgasm occurs. The dreams are most apt to occur well toward 
morning, and on several successive nights, after which I am 
too weary to care for anything in the sexual line for a time. 

Spring fever is a prolongation of the depression and rest- 
lessness and desire for love which accompany the menstrual 
function. I satisfy it by outdoor life or intensive flirtation. 

My day-dreams were originally concerned entirely with 



THE INSTINCTS OF THE ADOLESCENT GIRL 323 

my ambitions for a career and a life of social service. I had 
never known of physical sexual passion until my junior year 
at college, when I heard a lecture on sex hygiene. At about 
the same time, in the course of dances, I began to feel dis- 
tinct bodily thrills from the pressure against my breast as I 
was held closely in a partner's arms. Even yet I could not real- 
ize that men definitely attracted me. Then I learned about 
birth control, and realized that marriage must involve frequent 
sexual relations. As the conscious sexual desire increased, 
and I began to want the experience I was having in dreams 
in actual life, I day-dreamed of having masculine love. This 
reenforced my physical longings, and made me sure I wanted 
marriage, if it did not necessitate my renouncing all othei 
work. 

Case 7. I was put in the convent when a child and came 
out at seventeen. During summer vacations I made friends 
with other girls, and always hated to go back to the convent 
school and leave them, for I loved them. When I was sixteen, 
one of the girls gave me a novel; I stayed up all night to 
read it. Oh, how I wanted to be loved! I wondered if I would 
ever meet a man to love me like the hero in that book. The 
same week I went back to school, and according to rules had 
to go to confession. The novel reading was my biggest sin. 
I was so afraid the priest would scold me. Instead he smiled. 
Yet he said, "My child, there are bad books, and you who 
are pure at heart must never know them. The world is full 
of bad men, too, you should stay here in the convent, and 
devote your life to prayers and sacrifice." All that year he 
kept trying to persuade me to stay in the convent, but I 
wanted to see the outside world. I wanted love, though I 
knew so little what it meant. 

The summer I was seventeen I left the convent for good, 
and began to work in my father's store. One day, the very 
day I put my hair up for the first time, a salesman asked 
me to go for a spin in his big car. I felt I was really grown 
up at last. I told him I was nineteen, it sounded older than 



324 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

seventeen. I said, "Wait a minute till I tell Father." He 
didn't seem to like that. Well, dad didn't like it either. He 
sent me home, and the salesman never came back to the store 
again. My sister told me not to be too nice to strange men. 
I wanted to know why, so I answered an advertisement and 
got a book called Sextial Science. It was a medical work, and 
I read it whenever I had a chance. My sister found it and 
took it away from me. Then I got library books on anatomy, 
etc. 

At eighteen I began my nurse's training. At nineteen I got 
my first private case, a man patient, but I was too busy to 
think of his sex. At twenty-one I saw the first circumcision 
case in the operating room. It was the first time I realized 
consciously the anatomical difference between the sexes. The 
doctors teased me because I blushed so much. 

It was after this that I began to have such vivid sexual 
feelings. A few days before and after menstruation, how I 
longed to be loved. I flirted with the doctors at those times, 
but at the last minute Fd back out, I was scared, and my 
religion came in, too. They would be provoked, but always 
let me go, because I was still so innocent. 

I am now twenty-three, and deeply in love with another 
Catholic, who has always respected me as the doctors never 
did. I have often dreamed of having sexual intercourse with 
him after he has been caressing me. 

I know now that I am the passionate type, and I used 
to think I was very bad to be so, and bound straight for 
hell. Lately I have come to understand that it is natural for 
women to have sexual feelings and my mind is more at ease, 
but for a long time I thought I was really going to be bad 
as the nuns said. 

Even these few concrete cases show as no amount of ab- 
stract discussion could hope to do the strength and vividness 
of the new affective life upon which the girl enters at 
pubescence. But the all-important point is the tendency of 



THE INSTINCTS OF THE ADOLESCENT GIRL 325 

the sexual impulse to pass over into other forms of emotion, 
so that the girl is actuated more powerfully by fear, anger, 
or more especially the religious and aesthetic emotions than 
at any other time during her life. Frink notes this tendency 
of the sexual energy to reenforce other emotions in his studies 
of pathological cases, and points out that no physiological 
difficulty is involved in this transformation since the same 
metabolic changes are common to all other emotions as to 
sex tension. It is this transformation of the emotional energy 
which suffuses the young girl with a sense of shyness closely 
akin to fear, or gives her the repellent boldness which makes 
her appear to be devoid of all sentiments of modesty and 
humility. Often this unstable emotional state fluctuates be- 
tween the extremes of joy and sorrow, so that the transition 
from the supreme ecstasy of happiness to the lowest depths 
of despondency may be the instantaneous result of the most 
trivial occurrence. With this affective transmutation is cor- 
related congruous efferent outlets so that the sexual impulse, 
denied its primary expression, seeks other pathways, some- 
times abnormal and injurious, but more often of great use 
and beauty for the individual and society. 

Although the thought of motherhood is not rigorously re- 
pressed from consciousness like the idea of sexuality, it is 
not so easy to detect the presence of any deep maternal in- 
stinct in the make-up of the adolescent girl. Anticipations of 
motherhood are indeed inculcated in almost every girl as a 
matter of social tradition, but for this very reason it is diffi- 
cult to be sure just how much of the enthusiasm and love for 
children which she professes is spontaneous, and how much 
is due to the unconscious motive of desire for social approval. 
Dreams of childbirth, which are perhaps more common 
among girls than the purely erotic dream, are certainly un- 
mistakable evidence of the existence of such an instinct dur- 
ing adolescence, and the psychoanalysts admit that the basis 
of many a symbolic dream is the secret desire for children 
rather than suppressed sexual wishes. 



326 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

In visions of a home and children, again, the day-dreams 
of the adolescent girl find a fertile theme ; indeed her fancies 
are quite as much occupied with painting pictures along this 
line as with the visualization of the man who is to share this 
happy future. As Dr. Peters has found in her work with 
adolescent girls, the ideal man is more often the ideal father 
than the perfect lover, and the eugenic motive is taking an 
ever increasing part in the young girPs conception of her 
" Prince Charming. " That the modern girl is beginning to 
choose for her husband the man whom she wants to see as 
the father of her children at least augurs well for the future 
of the race, and it would also seem to indicate the first faint 
stirrings of the maternal impulse. 

Kohl suggests that the maternal motive prompts the 
mothering of younger brothers and sisters, and also appears 
in the love of strange little children and baby animals. All 
these traits are very apparent in the adolescent girl. The 
adolescent passion for secrets is recognized by G. Stanley Hall 
as genetically akin to nest-building and home-making, which 
were activities carried on with the utmost caution during the 
long phylogenetic history of the race. That there should be 
even these suggestions of a maternal instinct during ado- 
lescence is remarkable when we consider that at best it can 
only be faintly prophetic of the powerful impulse to come, 
since it lacks the complete physiological background which 
only motherhood itself can give. 



THE LOVE PROBLEM OF THE STUDENT * 

By C. G. Jung 

LOVE is always a problem, whatever the age of life w^ 
are concerned with. For the phase of childhood the love ot 
the parents is the problem; for the aged man the problem 
is, what has he made of his love. Love is one of the great 
forces of fate that reaches from heaven to hell. We must, I 
think, understand love in this way, if we are to do any sort 
of justice to the actual problems it involves. This problem is 
one of immense scope and intricacy; it is not confined to this 
or to that special province, but involves every aspect of 
human life. (It is an ethical, a social, a psychological ques- 
tion, to name only a few of the aspects of this many-sided 
phenomenon.) The invasion of love into all the aspects of 
life that are general that is, collective is, however, a rela- 
tively small difficulty in comparison with the fact that love 
is also an intensely individual problem. For, regarded from 
this point of view, it means that every general criterion and 
rule loses its validity, just as in the matter of religious con- 
viction which, though perpetually recodified through the 
course of history, yet, as an original phenomenon, is always 
an individual experience, bending to no traditional ruling. 

Moreover, the very word "love" is itself no small handicap 
to a clear discussion. What indeed has not been called "love"! 
If we begin with the highest mystery of the Christian re- 
ligion, there is the amor Dei of Origen, the amor intellectualis 
Dei of Spinoza, the love of the idea of Plato, the Gottes- 
minne 2 of the mystics. When we come to the human sphere 
there is Goethe's: 

1 From Contributions to Analytical Psychology. New York: Hai- 
court, Brace and Company, 1928. 

2 Romantic love of God. 

327 



328 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

Entschlafen sind nun wilde Triebe 
Mit jedem ungestumen tun, 
Es reget sich die Menschenliebe 
Die liebe Gottes regt sich nun. 3 

Then there is the love of one's neighbor, both in its Chris- 
tian and Buddhistic characters of compassion, philanthropy, 
and social service. Next there is love of country, and the 
love for other ideal institutions as, for instance, the church, 
etc. Then comes parental love, above all, mother love, then 
filial love. When we come to conjugal love we leave the purely 
spiritual realm behind, and enter that between-world that 
stretches between mind and instinct, where on the one hand 
the pure flame of Eros sets fire to sexuality, and where, on 
the other, ideal forms of love, such as parental love, love of 
country and love for one's neighbor, become contaminated 
with lust for personal power and the will to possess and 
command. But in saying this we do not mean that every 
contact with the sphere of instinct necessarily involves de- 
terioration. On the contrary the beauty and truth of the 
pow r er of love will prove the more perfect, the more the in- 
stinct can embrace it. But in so far as instinct dominates love, 
the animal will come to the surface. The love of bride and 
bridegroom can be of the kind that Goethe has in mind 
when he says: 

Wenn starke Geisteskraft 

Die Elemente 

An sich herangeraft, 

Kein Engel trennte 

Geeinte Zwienatur 

Der innigeon beiden 

Die ewige Liebe nur 

Vermags zu scheiden. 4 

3 They sleep, the wild impetuous instincts 
With every unrestrained deed. 
Human love doth stir and quicken 
The love of God now breaketh seed. 
4 When spirit irresistible 
Grasps and holds within itself 



THE LOVE PROBLEM OF THE STUDENT 329 

But it is not necessarily such a love. It may also be that love 
of which Nietzsche says: "two animals have recognized each 
other." The love of the lover goes even deeper. Here the 
dedication of the betrothal, the pledge of common life are 
lacking. But in compensation that other beauty, the beauty 
that clings to what is fateful and tragic, can transfigure this 
love. However, as a rule, instinct predominates with its dark, 
slow ftre, or its flickering flares. 

Yet even here the word "love" has not reached its limits 
We speak of "love" to cover the sexual act on all possible 
levels, from officially .sanctioned, wedded cohabitation to 
physiological necessity which the latter makes or is forced 
to make of love. 

We speak also of love of boys (knabenliebc) , by which 
we mean homosexuality, which, ever since the classic period 
of Greece, has been stripped of the appearance of a social 
and educational institution, and, in so far as men are con- 
cerned, ekes out a wretched and anxious existence as a so- 
called perversity. In Anglo-Saxon countries, on the other 
hand, homosexuality among women appears recently to have 
acquired more significance than Sapphic lyricism, inasmuch 
as it seems to serve the ideas of women's social and political 
organization as an advantageous undercurrent, much in the 
same way as the formation of the Greek city had to thank 
male homosexuality for an essential reenforcement of energy. 

Finally the word "love" must be stretched still further, to 
cover all the perversions of sexuality. There is an incestuous 
love, aa onanistic self-love, which has won the name narcis- 
sism. Besides these, the word love has to include every mor- 
bid sexual abomination as well as every greed, that has ever 
degraded man to the level of the beast and the machine. 

The elements, 

No angel severeth 

The twin natures thus joined 

In their inmost being. 

Only love eternal 

Can achieve this sundering. 



33O SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

Thus we find ourselves in the unprofitable situation of 
beginning a discussion about a matter and a concept of abso- 
lutely unlimited extent and indefiniteness. One feels inclined, 
at least for the purposes of today's discussion, to restrict 
the concept of love to the problem, for instance, of how youth 
in its student days has to come to terms with and behave 
towards sexuality. But this restriction is precisely what is 
impossible, since all the aspects I have mentioned above must 
be included in this problem, and because all the significa- 
tions of the word "love" are also contained as active factors 
in the love problems of the student. 

We can, of course, agree to discuss the average problem, 
namely, the qtieston as to how the so-called normal man 
has to conduct himself under stated circumstances. Disre- 
garding the fact that the normal man does not exist, there is, 
nevertheless, similarity enough among individuals even of 
the most diverse kind, to give us that common ground which 
could warrant the notion of average possibilities. Here, as 
always, the practical solution of the problem is conditioned 
by two factors: on the one hand by the demands and ca- 
pacities of the individual, and on the other by the circum- 
stances of the environment. 

A certain obligation falls upon the opener of a discussion 
to present a general survey of the problem. Naturally this 
demand can be satisfied, only if, as physician, I restrict 
myself to an objective account of things that actually occur, 
and abstain from that stale, moralizing talk which tries to 
cloak this subject in a piebald garment of bashfulness and 
hypocrisy. Moreover, I am not here to tell you what you 
ought to do. That must be left to the man who always knows 
what is best for other people. 

In the title for our discussion, namely, "The Love Problem 
of the Student," I must assume that this wording love 
problem refers to the mutual relation of the two sexes one 
to the other, and therefore must not be construed to mean 
sexual problem of the student. This provides us with an 



THE LOVE PROBLEM OF THE STUDENT 33! 

essential limitation of the subject. The sexual question would 
come into the discussion then, only in so far as it concerns 
the problem of love, or relationship. Hence we can exclude 
from the discussion all those sexual phenomena that do not 
concern the problem of relationship, namely, sexual perver- 
sions (with the exception of homosexuality), onanism, as 
well as the sexual traffic with prostitutes. We cannot exclude 
homosexuality, because very often it is a problem of rela- 
tionship. But we can exclude prostitution, since as a rule 
it does not involve relationship; the rare exceptions only 
serve to confirm the rule. 

The average solution of the love problem is, as of course 
you know, marriage. But experience shows that this average 
truth does not hold good for the student. The immediate 
cause of this is the fact that from economic reasons the stu- 
dent cannot, as a rule, set up housekeeping. We must also 
remember the youthful age of most male students, which 
will not yet bear the degree of social fixation that marriage 
demands. This is largely due to his unfinished studies, but 
also to the need of freedom and the liberty to move from 
place to place as this freedom may decide. There is further- 
more the psychological immaturity, the childish clinging to 
the home and family, the relatively undeveloped capacity for 
love and responsibility, the lack of any breadth of experi- 
ence of life and the world, the typical illusions of youth and 
so forth. There is also a reason that should not be under- 
estimated in the wise reserve of the woman; that is, the 
girl student in the present instance. Her first aim is to com- 
plete her studies and to take up a calling. Therefore she 
abstains from marriage, especially from marriage with a stu- 
dent who so long as he remains a student is for the very rea- 
sons just named none too desirable from the point of view of 
marriage. Another essential cause of the infrequency of these 
student marriages is the question of children. As a rule when 
a woman marries she wants a child; whereas the man can 
manage well enough for a time without children. A marriage 



332 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

without children has no especial attraction for a woman; 
hence she prefers to wait. 

Recently marriages among students have certainly become 
rather more frequent. This is due partly to certain psycho- 
logical changes in our modern consciousness, and partly to a 
more general dissemination of contraceptive means by which 
a voluntary postponement of conception is made possible. 
The psychological changes which, among other things, have 
brought about the phenomenon of the student marriage come 
from the general mental upheavals of the last decade, the 
total significance of which we, as contemporaries, are scarcely 
able to grasp in all its depths. We can only substantiate the 
fact that as a consequence of a more general spread of scien- 
tific knowledge and a more scientific way of thinking, a 
change in the very conception of the love problem has taken 
place. For natural science has made it possible to link up 
man as the species homo sapiens to the whole natural system. 
This change has not merely an intellectual, but also an 
emotional aspect. 

This vitally new perspective influences the feeling of the 
individual because he feels released from the chains of that 
metaphysical determination with its moral categories which 
was characteristic of the world consciousness of the Middle 
Ages. He is also delivered from the taboos which those chains 
had wrought in man's attitude to nature, namely, the moral 
judgments which in the last analysis always have their roots 
in the religious metaphysic of the time. Within the national 
moral system everyone knows well enough why marriage is 
"right," and why other forms of love are to be condemned. 
But outside the system, upon the wide playground and bat- 
tlefield of the natural earth, where a man feels himself to be 
the most gifted member of the great family of animals, and 
where perchance he has again forgotten that medieval con- 
tempt of the animals which deprived them of human kin- 
ship, here he must begin to orientate himself anew. 

The loss of the old standards of value means virtually 



THE LOVE PROBLEM OF THE STUDENT 333 

moral chaos. We feel a doubt about hitherto accepted forms, 
we begin to dispute about things which long have sheltered 
behind a moral prejudice. We make intrepid investigations 
of actual facts, we feel an irresistible need to get clear about 
the fundamentals of experience, we intend to know and to 
understand. The eyes of science are fearless and clear; they 
do not flinch from adventuring into moral obscurities and 
dirty backgrounds. The man of today is no longer just con- 
tent with a traditional view; he must know why. This spirit, 
of investigation leads him to new standards of value. 

One of these modern points of view is the hygienic valua- 
tion. Through a franker and more objective discussion of 
the sexual question a knowledge of the immense mischief 
and dangers of venereal disease has become far more general. 
The duty of consciously maintaining one's own health has 
superseded the guilty fears of the old morality. This moral 
sanitation has, however, not yet progressed to the point when 
the public conscience demands that the same civic measures 
be taken for dealing with venereal diseases as with other 
infectious diseases. For venereal diseases are still "improper" 
maladies, as opposed to smallpox and cholera, which are 
morally fit for the drawing-room. In a later and better time 
mankind will ridicule these distinctions. 

Apart from the fact of venereal diseases, the widespread 
discussion of the sexual question has brought the extraordi- 
nary importance of sexuality in all its psychic ramifications 
into the field of social consciousness. A good portion of this 
work has been achieved by the much abused psychoanalytic 
research of the last twenty-five years. It is no longer possible 
today to brush aside the stupendous psychological fact of 
sexuality with a bad joke or with a slow moral indignation. 
We begin to place the sexual question within the constella- 
tion of the great human problems, and to discuss it with a 
seriousness commensurate with its importance. The natural 
result of this has been that much that was formerly held to 
be established fact has become open to doubt. There is a 



334 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

doubt, for instance, as to whether officially licensed sexuality 
is the only form of procedure that i morally possible, and 
whether every other form should be rejected en bloc. The 
arguments for and against gradually lose their moral edge; 
practical points of view force themselves into the discussion, 
and finally we begin to discover that traditional legitimacy 
is not eo ipso equivalent with moral elevation. The marriage 
problem with its usually somber background has become the 
object of romantic literature. Whereas the romance of the 
old style concluded with a happy betrothal or a wedding, 
the modern romance often begins after marriage. In these 
literary productions, with which everyone is acquainted, the 
most intimate problems are often handled with a lack of 
reticence that is positively painful. Of the veritable flood of 
more or less undisguised pornographic writings we need 
hardly speak. A popular scientific book, Forel's Sexuelle 
Frage, not only had an enormous sale, it also found not a 
few imitators. In scientific literature compilations have been 
produced, that not in scope alone, but also in the nature 
of the depths which they attempt to plumb, outstrip Krafft- 
Ebing's work Psychopathia Sexualis in a way which would 
not have been dreamed of thirty or forty years ago. These 
general, and also generally known, phenomena are a sign 
of the times. They make it possible for the youth of today 
to apprehend the problem of sexuality in its whole range 
much earlier and more radically than was ever possible be- 
fore the last two decades. There are not lacking those who 
maintain that this early preoccupation with the sexual prob- 
lem is unwholesome, and that it is a symptom of degenera- 
tion peculiar to large cities. I remember an article which 
appeared fifteen years ago in Ostwald's Annalen der Natur- 
philosophie, in which an author actually said: "primitive 
peoples like the Eskimos, Swiss, etc., have no sexual ques- 
tion.'' It scarcely needs much reflection to understand why 
primitives have no sexual problems; beyond the concerns 
of the stomach they have no other problems to worry about. 



THE LOVE PROBLEM OF THE STUDENT 335 

The latter are a prerogative of civilized man. Although in 
Switzerland we have no great cities, such problems never- 
theless exist. Hence I do not hold that discussion of the 
sexual question is unhealthy, or in the least degenerate: 
rather do I see in this problem a symptom of the great 
psychological revolution of our time. On the contrary it 
seems to me that the more we discuss this question seriously 
and fundamentally the better, for this problem is surely a 
pregnant one for the life and happiness of mankind. The 
fact that many pursue such discussions to the point of abuse 
does not spring from the nature of the problem, but rather 
from the inferiority of the people who abuse it. Abuse after 
all is common to every time and to every kind of activity. 

It is doubtless the serious preoccupation with this question 
that has led to the hitherto unknown phenomenon of the 
student marriage. It is a phenomenon of such very recent 
appearance that from lack of sufficient data it is difficult to 
form a judgment about it. Early marriages there have been 
in abundance in former times, marriages also that have 
seemed very unbalanced from the social standpoint. Thus in 
itself student marriage is something perfectly possible. But 
the question of children is another matter. If both parents 
are studying, children surely must be excluded. But a mar- 
riage that is kept childless by artificial means is always some- 
what problematical, since children are a cement that holds 
where nothing else could. And it is the concentration upon 
the children which in innumerable cases sustains that feeling 
of common life which is so essential for the stability of re- 
lationship. Where children are lacking the interests of the 
married pair are directed upon each other, which in itself 
might be a good thing. But in practice, unfortunately, this 
preoccupation with one another is not always of a very amia- 
ble character. Each is inclined to hold the other responsible 
for the lack of satisfaction felt by both. Probably under these 
circumstances it is better that the wife should also be study- 
ing; for otherwise she is apt to suffer from the lack of an 



336 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

object. Moreover, many women when once married cannot 
tolerate it without children, and become themselves intoler- 
able. But when the wife is also studying, she has at least a 
life outside of her marriage that is sufficiently satisfying. A 
woman who is focused on the child, and with whom the 
meaning of marriage is concerned more with the child 
than with the husband, should certainly think twice before 
undertaking a student marriage. She should also beware of 
the fact that the maternal feeling often appears in an im- 
perative form only when marriage is an accomplished fact. 
Concerning the prematureness of the student marriage we 
should note a fact that is relevant to all early marriages, 
namely that a woman of twenty is as a rule older than a 
man of twenty-five, in so far as psychological judgment is 
concerned. With many men of twenty-five psychological 
puberty is not yet completed. But puberty is an epoch of 
life that is liable to illusion and states of partial accountabil- 
ity. This springs from the fact that the boy, up to the age 
of sexual maturity, is as a rule quite childish, whereas the 
girl develops much earlier the psychic subtleties that belong 
to puberty. Into the childishness of the boy sexuality often 
breaks with a stormy and brutal entrance; whilst with the 
girl, in spite of the onset of puberty, it continues to slumber 
until the passion of love awakens it. There are, however, a 
surprising number of women in whom effective sexuality, 
even in spite of marriage, remains long in the virginal 
condition, first becoming conscious perhaps only when she 
falls in love with a man other than the husband. This is the 
reason why very many women have no understanding at all 
of masculine sexuality; because to a very great extent they 
kre unconscious of their own. It is different with the man; 
upon him sexuality forces itself as a brutal fact, filling him 
with the storm and stress of new struggles and needs. There 
is scarcely one who escapes the painful and anxious problem 
of onanism; whereas a girl is often able to masturbate for 
years without knowing what she is doing. 



THE LOVE PROBLEM OF THE STUDENT 337 

The inrush of sexuality in a man brings about a powerful 
change in his psychology. He now has the sexuality of an 
adult man, yet with it the soul of a child. Often like a devas- 
tating tide of filthy water, a flood of obscene fantasies and 
the disgusting puberty talk of his schoolfellows is poured 
over every tender, childish feeling, in some cases stifling it 
forever. Unsuspected moral conflicts arise, temptations of 
every kind lie in wait for the youth and engross his fantasy. 
The psychic assimilation of the sexual complex is the cause 
of immense difficulties, even though he may be unaware of 
the problem. 

The onset of puberty also involves a considerable change 
in the body and its metabolism, as is seen, for example, in 
the acne of puberty, a common pustular eruption of the face 
and neck. 

In a similar manner his psyche is disturbed and thrown 
somewhat off its balance. At this age the youth is full of 
illusions, which are always the expression of a certain loss 
of equilibrium. For a long time illusions make stability and 
mature judgment impossible. His taste, his interests, his life 
projects undergo many changes. He may suddenly fall mor- 
tally in love with a girl, and a fortnight later be no longer 
able to conceive how it could ever have happened to him. 
To such a degree is he subject to illusions, that he actually 
needs these mistakes before he can become at all conscious 
of his own taste and individual judgment. At this age he is 
still experimenting with life. And he must experiment with 
it, so that he may learn how to form correct judgments. But 
no experiments are made without failure and mistakes. 
Hence it comes about that few men have not had sexual 
experience of some kind before they are married. At the 
time of puberty there is a leaning towards homosexual ex- 
periences, which are much commoner than is usually ad- 
mitted. Later there are heterosexual experiences, not always 
of a very beautiful kind. For the less the sexual complex is 
assimilated to the whole of the personality, the more will it 



338 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

remain independent and instinctive in character. Sexuality 
is then purely animal, recognizing no psychic distinctions. 
The most inferior woman may be good enough. It suffices 
that she is woman with typical secondary sex attributes. 
But a false step or two of this sort does not necessarily 
give us the right to draw conclusions as to the definite char- 
acter of the man, since the act can occur at a time when 
the sexual complex is still divorced from psychic influences. 
Nevertheless frequent experiences of this kind have a bad 
effect upon the formation of personality, inasmuch as they 
tend to establish sexuality habitually upon too low a level, 
so that it becomes incompatible with the moral personality. 
The result is that, morally, such a man although outwardly 
a so-called respectable married man, is a prey to sexual fan- 
tasies of a low kind, or else he represses them and on some 
festive occasion they will come leaping again to the surface 
in their primitive form, much to the amazement of the un- 
suspecting wife, assuming, of course, that she observes what 
is going on. Not infrequently in such cases there is also a 
premature coldness of feeling for the wife. Often the wife is 
frigid from the beginning of marriage, because her sensation 
does not respond to this kind of sexuality in the husband, 

The weakness of a man's judgment at the time of psychic 
puberty should prompt him to reflect very deeply before 
risking a premature choice of a wife. 

Let us now pass on to consider other forms of relationship 
between the sexes that are customary during the student 
period. There exist, as you know, chiefly in the great uni- 
versities of other countries, characteristic student liaisons. 
These relationships have a certain stability and even a cer- 
tain psychic value, i.e., they exist not only for the sake of 
sexuality, but also, in many cases, for the sake of love. 
Instances sometimes occur where a liaison goes on later into 
marriage. This relationship stands, therefore, considerably 
higher than prostitution. It is usually limited, however, to 
those students who were circumspect in their choice of 



THE LOVE PROBLEM OF THE STUDENT 339 

parents. As a rule it is a question of the money-bags, since 
most of these young women are dependent upon the financial 
help of their lovers; not that one could say, however, that 
they sell their love for money. Often such a relationship 
means for the young woman a beautiful episode in an exist- 
ence otherwise poor and empty of love. For the man it may 
be his first intimate acquaintance with a woman, and a 
memory upon which he looks back in later life with emo- 
tion. But often there is nothing valuable in such a connec- 
tion, partly as a result of crude sensuality, thoughtlessness, 
and lack of feeling on the man's part, and partly as a result 
of foolishness, fickleness, and light-mindedness on the part 
of the girl. 

Always, however, there hangs over these relationships the 
Damocles sword of transitoriness, which hinders the realiza- 
tion of higher values. They are only episodes, experiments 
of a very limited validity. 

The injurious effect of such connections on the formation 
of personality is due to the fact that the man gains the 
woman too cheaply. Consequently the value of the object is 
depreciated. It is too easy for the man to dispose of his 
sexual problem in such a convenient and irresponsible way. 
He becomes spoiled and luxurious. Furthermore, the fact that 
he is sexually satisfied deprives him of a certain impetus 
which a young man can scarcely dispense with. He becomes 
blase. He can wait, and in the meantime can calmly review 
womanhood passing before him until he discovers the con- 
genial parti. Then when the wedding comes along the liaison 
is thrown over. This procedure is hardly profitable to the 
character; moreover, the lower type of relationship tends to 
establish sexuality on a low level of development, which can 
easily produce subsequent difficulties in marriage. Or if the 
fantasies on this level are repressed, neurotics are the out- 
come or, worse still, moral zealots. 

Homosexual relations between students of either sex are 
by no means uncommon. So far as I am able to gauge this 



340 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

phenomenon, I would say that these relationships are less 
common with us, and upon the continent generally than in 
certain other countries where the students (male and female) 
live in colleges. I am now speaking not of actual homo- 
sexuals who, as pathological figures, are incapable of a real 
friendship and, therefore, find no particular sympathy 
among normal individuals, but of more or less normal young 
people who feel such an enthusiastic friendship for each 
other that they express their feeling also in a sexual form. 
In such cases it is not just a matter of mutual masturbation, 
which in the earlier phases of school and college life is the or- 
der of the day, but rather of a higher, more spiritual form that 
deserves to be called "friendship" in the classical meaning 
of the word. When such a friendship exists between an older 
man and a younger its educational importance is undeniable. 
A slightly homosexual teacher, for instance, often owes a 
brilliant educational capacity to his homosexual disposition. 
Thus the homosexual relation between the older and the 
younger can be of mutual advantage and have a real value 
for life. An indispensable condition of the value of such a 
relation is the loyalty and permanence of the friendship. 
But only too easily is this the one condition that is omitted. 
The more homosexual a man is, the more is he liable to dis- 
loyalty, and to become a mere seducer of boys. Even where 
loyal and true friendship prevails undesirable consequences 
for the growth of personality may easily ensue. A friendship 
of this kind naturally involves a particular cult of the feel- 
ings, hence, of the womanish element in a man. He becomes 
schwarmerisch, soulful, aesthetic, "sensitive," in other words 
effeminate. And this womanish bearing does not fit a man. 
In the friendship between women similar advantages can 
be brought out; only here the difference of age and the 
educational factor play a smaller role. Its main value lies in 
the interchange of tender feelings on the one hand, and of 
ideas on the other. As a general rule it is the high-spirited, 
intellectual, rather masculine type of woman who is seeking 



THE LOVE PROBLEM OF THE STUDENT 341 

in such a relation a defense against and a superiority over 
man. Her attitude to man often takes on the character of a 
disconcerting assurance and a certain delicate defiance. The 
effect upon her character is to emphasize the masculine traits 
and to diminish womanly charm. Often a man discovers her 
homosexuality by observing that such a woman leaves him 
as cold as an ice house. 

The practice of homosexuality does not in normal cases 
prejudice a later heterosexuality. Indeed occasionally both 
can exist side by side. I have seen a most intelligent woman 
who lived her whole life in a homosexual relation, and at fifty 
entered into a normal relationship with a man. 

Among the sexual relations of the student period another 
peculiar form must be mentioned, which also falls within 
the orbit of the normal, namely, the relation of the young 
man to the elderly woman, who if possible is married or at 
least widowed. You will perhaps remember Jean-Jacques 
Rousseau and his relation to Madame de Warens. This or a 
similar kind of relation is what I am referring to. Usually 
in these cases the man is of a timid nature, unsure of him- 
self and inwardly anxious, in short, childish. He naturally 
seeks a mother. Many women like nothing better than a 
rather helpless man, especially when they are considerably 
older than he; in fact they do not love the strength, the 
virtue, or the merit in a man, but his weaknesses. They find 
his infantilities charming; if he stammers a little he is 
enchanting; or perhaps he is lame, and this excites maternal 
compassion and a little more besides. As a rule the woman 
seduces him, and he wraps himself in her maternal atmos- 
phere. 

Not always, however, does a timid youth remain half a 
child. It may be that just this surfeit of maternal solicitude 
is the thing his undeveloped virility needs in order to bring 
it to the surface, and the relationship with such a woman 
will enable him to educate his feeling into full consciousness. 
He learns to understand a woman who has had experience 



342 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

of life and the world, and who is conscious of herself. Thus 
he obtains a rare opportunity of a glimpse behind the scenes 
of the world of men and women. But this advantage is 
gained only by the man who soon outgrows this type of 
relationship; for should he stay in it her mothering would 
ruin him. Maternal tenderness is the most mischievous poison 
for the man who must prepare himself for the hard and 
pitiless struggle of life. If he will not let go of her skirts he 
will eventually become an invertebrate parasite for as a 
rule she has money and gradually sink to the level of par- 
rots, lap-dogs, and old dames' cats. 

The natural course of our discussion now leads us to that 
form of relationship which yields no solution of the sexual 
question, namely, the asexual or "platonic" relationship. If 
an exhaustive statistic of student relationships could be 
made, it would probably show, if my judgment be correct, 
that with us in Switzerland the majority of students favor 
platonic relations. Naturally, this raises the question of sex- 
ual abstinence. One often hears the view that abstaining from 
sexual intercourse becomes injurious to health. This view 
is wrong, at least for the student phase of life. Complete ab- 
stention has an injurious effect upon the health, only when 
the age is reached when the man could win a woman, and 
when, acco r ding to his individual way, he should win her. 
The extraordinary intensification of the sexual need that so 
often accompanies this particular psychological constellation 
has the biological aim of clearing forcibly out of the way 
certain scruples, prejudices, and hesitations. This is at times 
most necessary, for the need to decide in favor of marriage 
with all the doubtful possibilities connected with it, has made 
many a man shy. It is only natural, therefore, that nature 
tries to push him over the obstacle. Resistance against and 
abstention from sexual expression under such circumstances 
may certainly have injurious effects; but this need not be 
the case of course if no physical or psychological probability 
or necessity presents itself. 



THE LOVE PROBLEM OF THE STUDENT 343 

This question has a certain similarity with the question 
of the injuriousness of onanism. Under circumstances where' 
either from physical or psychical causes normal intercourse 
is impossible and it is used merely as a safety valve, mas- 
turbation has no ill-effects. Those young people who come 
to the doctor suffering from the harmful results of mastur- 
bation are not by any means excessive onanists the latter 
as a rule need no physician because they are not at all ill 
but their onanism has bad results because it involves psychic 
complications. On the one hand through the stings of con- 
science, and on the other through a riot of sexual fantasies. 
This latter form is particularly common with women. 
Onanism that involves psychic complications of this kind is 
harmful, but not the ordinary uncomplicated masturbation 
due to necessity. But when onanism is continued into that 
age of life when the physical, psychical, and social possi- 
bilities of normal intercourse are present, and masturbation 
is indulged in in order to evade the necessities and responsible 
decisions of mature life then it is harmful. 

Platonic relationship is very important in the student 
period. Its commonest manifestation is flirting, which springs 
from an experimental attitude that is quite appropriate at 
this age. It is voluntary and, by virtue of a tacit but general 
understanding, it is without obligations. That is both its 
advantage and its disadvantage. The experimental attitude 
makes it possible for an acquaintance to be formed without 
immediately fatal results. Both sexes exercise their judgment 
and dexterity in reciprocal expression, accommodation, and 
defense. Innumerable experiences that often prove uncom- 
monly valuable in later life can be included in the category 
of flirting. But, on the contrary, the absence of obligation 
often tends to seduce a man or a girl into the practice of 
habitual flirtation, and then they grow shallow, superficial, 
and heartless. The man becomes a drawing-room hero, a 
heart-breaker, never dreaming what a dull insipid figure he 
presents. The woman becames a coquette whom a serious 



344 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

man instinctively feels is not to be taken seriously. Hence 
flirting a tout prix is not to be commended. 

A phenomenon that is as rare as flirting is common is the 
genesis and conscious cultivation of a serious love. We 
might term this phenomenon simply the ideal case, without 
thereby committing ourselves to traditional romanticism. 
For the formation of the personality the timely awakening 
and conscious cultivation of a deep, serious, and responsible 
feeling is undoubtedly of the highest value in every respect. 
For the young man such a relationship can be the most 
effectual shield against all side-tracks and temptations, 
against all physical and psychic hurts, and can also be a 
powerful spur to industry, proficiency, loyalty, and reliabil- 
ity. 

There is, however, no value so great that it has not also 
its unfavorable aspect. A relationship that is so ideal easily 
becomes exclusive. There is before his eyes ever the same 
object and the same goal. Through his love the young man is 
too much cut off from the acquaintance of other women; 
and the girl does not learn the art of erotic achievement, 
since she already possesses her man. And the possessive 
instinct of the woman is a dangerous thing. It may easily 
happen that the man, regretting all those experiences with 
other women that he omitted to have before marriage, decides 
to make up for them later. 

It must not be concluded from the above that every love 
relationship of this kind is ideal. There are cases which are 
exactly the opposite, where, for instance, a sweethearting 
begun in schooldays is somehow prolonged by force of habit 
and for no other intelligible reason. From inertia, lack of 
spirit, or awkwardness they simply cannot get free of each 
other. Perhaps the par&its or\ both sides find it quite suitable, 
and inasmuch as thoughtlessness and habit gave it birth, so 
passivity rules it to the end. They put up with it as a fait 
accompli, and simply endure it. Then the disadvantages accu- 
mulate without a single advantage. Whatever benefit may be 



THE LOVE PROBLEM OF THE STUDENT 345 

assumed for this state of things is only apparent, since as 
regards the formation of personality it is merely an un- 
healthy ease and passivity that entirely frustrates the realiza- 
tion of valuable experiences and the exercise of manly or 
womanly gifts and virtues. Moral qualities are only won in 
freedom, and are only proved in situations that are morally 
dangerous. The thief who refrains from stealing because he 
is in prison is not a moral personality. The parents of such 
children may indeed blink fond eyes upon this touching 
marriage, and add the respectability of their progeny to the 
tale of their own virtues, but this "virtue" is only a phan- 
tom, not moral strength, but immoral complaisance. 

With this very brief survey let us turn from the field of 
living phenomena to the chapter of desiderata and Utopian 
possibilities. 

Nowadays we cannot discuss the love problem without 
also speaking of the Utopia of free love, including trial mar- 
riage. To anticipate somewhat I must say that I regard 
these ideas as in the nature of wish-pictures, or attempts to 
make easy something that in actual life is invariably diffi- 
cult. Our time is certainly prolific in these attempts. Were 
there not more than 100,000 Swiss citizens who imagined that 
the dividing up of property would achieve the goal; whereas 
every man knows that only the initiative, the conscientious- 
ness, and the responsibility of the individual maintains the 
race. Just as there grows no herb which can keep away 
death, so there exists no simple means which can make a 
hard thing, as life assuredly is, an easy matter. We can only 
overcome the force of gravity by a corresponding applica- 
tion of energy. Thus the solution of the love problem chaL 
lenges the whole of a man. Satisfactory solutions are found 
only when a totality is given to the work. Everything else 
is only patch-work and in the long run unserviceable. Free 
love would only be thinkable if every man achieved morally 
his maximum accomplishment. But the idea of free love is 
not invented for this end, but in order to make what is 



346 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

difficult appear easy. To love belong the depth and loyalty 
of feeling, without which love is not love but mere caprice. 
True love will always engage in lasting, responsible ties. It 
needs freedom only for the choice, but not for its accom- 
plishment. Every true, deep love is a sacrifice. A man sacri- 
fices his possibilities, or, to put it better, the illusion of his 
possibilities. If this sacrifice is not made his illusions hinder 
the realization of the deep and responsible feeling, and ac- 
cordingly the possibility of experiencing real love is also 
denied him. 

Love has more than one element in common with religious 
conviction; it demands an unconditioned attitude and it 
expects complete surrender. Only that believer who yields 
himself wholly to his god partakes of the manifestation of 
divine grace. Similarly, love reveals its highest mysteries 
and wonder only to him who is capable of unconditioned 
surrender and loyalty of feeling. Because this is so hard, 
few indeed of mortal men can boast of achieving it. But 
just because the most devoted and truest love is also the 
most beautiful let no man seek that which could make love 
easy. He is a sorry knight of his lady who recoils from the 
difficulty of love. Love is like God: both give themselves only 
to their bravest knights. 

In much the same terms must trial marriage be criticized. 
The very fact that a man enters marriage on trial means 
that he makes a reservation; he wishes to insure himself 
against the chance of burning his fingers; he means to risk 
nothing. But thereby he frustrates in the most effective way 
possible the realization of a real experience. You cannot ex- 
perience the terror of the polar ice by perusing a book of 
travel, nor can you climb the Himalayas in the cinema. 

Love is not a cheap matter; let us therefore beware not 
to cheapen it. All our evil qualities, our egotism, our cow- 
ardice, our so-called worldly wisdom, our greed all these 
things would like to persuade us not to take love seriously. 
I must even regard it as a misfortune that nowadays the 



THE LOVE PROBLEM OF THE STUDENT 347' 

sexual question is spoken of as something distinct from love. 
The two problems should not be separated, for when there 
is a sexual problem it can only be solved by love. Every 
other solution would be a harmful surrogate. Sexuality re- 
leased as sexuality is brutish. But as an expression of love 
sexuality is hallowed. Never ask therefore what a man does, 
but how he does it. Does he act from love and in the spirit 
of love, then he serves a god, and whatever he may do, it is 
not our business to judge, for it is ennobled. 

I trust these remarks will have made it clear that I make 
no sort of moral judgment about sexuality as a natural phe- 
nomenon, but prefer to make moral judgments dependent 
upon the way it is expressed. 



VIII 
SEX IN LITERATURE 



CONTEMPORARY SEX RELEASE IN LITERATURE l 

By V. F. Calverton 

THE twentieth century crosses a new phase in the cultural 
history of the modern world. The World War brought to an 
end the illusionment of bourgeois idealism. World leadership 
has become entirely a matter of economic resources and 
power. The shift of supremacy has been determined by these 
factors. England, which formerly replaced Italy as the center 
of world power because of its position of vantage in the 
commercial world, has reluctantly relinquished its supremacy 
to the United States which, with its superior natural resources 
and superior position of vantage because of the development 
of ocean traffic in the Pacific as well as the Atlantic, has be- 
come the dominating dinosaur in the modern menagerie of 
world control. 2 The Far East is at present a shadow that time 
threatens to spread into a giant. Imperialism has engulfed 
democracy into the maw of the ridiculous. 

The bourgeoisie, still the ascendant in society, is under- 
going, despite its bellicose expansion in unexploited countries, 
a process of decay. Its philosophy, shot through with con- 
temporary contradictions, is deteriorating into a myth im- 
possible because absurd. The heyday of the bourgeoisie in 
the nineteenth century overflowed with the richness of prom- 
ise and the prophecy of poet. The proletarians and aesthetes 
of the last years of the century, however, exposed and satir- 
ized its slipping pretensions. The twentieth century has 
transformed the exposure and satire into inescapable logic. 

The bourgeois philosophy was built upon the theory of 

1 From Sex Expression in Literature. New York: Horace Liveright, 
1926. 

2 Cf . Horrabin, Economic Geography. Also Trotsky, Whither Eng- 
land? 



352 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

laissez-faire economics and the pragmatic concept of indi- 
vidualism. The very development of the social contradictions 
in capitalism has stultified their practice and defense. Even 
economists as conservative today as the asinine Carver rec- 
ommend restricted laissez-jaire, and all radical economists ad- 
vocate its abandonment. The development of corporations and 
monopoly, the advance of the trustified state of industry, have 
revealed the fallacies of the laissez-jaire doctrine. The very 
nature of the trust annihilates competition. Competition then 
takes place between trusts. National trusts struggle with other 
national trusts in an endeavor to capture foreign markets 
and exploit natural resources. 3 The trust becomes a tre- 
mendous collective enterprise in which everyone connected 
with the organization cooperates except in the profits. Com- 
petition is kept alive only between large units, between the 
trusts themselves. The petty bourgeoisie, the owners of small 
businesses, are slowly and excruciatingly extinguished. The 
trust exploits the public and so we have anti-trust laws 
which are like the gestures of a comedian who cries to the 
audience to stop laughing at the contortions that he is 
inevitably continuing and perfecting. In brief, the trust 
destroys the free competitive market, that the older econo- 
mists had postulated as necessary to the evolution of laissez- 
jaire economics, and in the exigency to control the trust, 
restrictions are intruded that are contrary to the laissez-jaire 
doctrine itself. Thus, the economic philosophy of the bour- 
geoisie, with the new developments in its industrial life, has 
become anachronistic and untenable. 

In the very criterion of bourgeois production efficiency 
inheres another contradiction that has hastened the decay 
of the system. Efficiency demands effective, unwasteful or- 
ganization. Competition means waste. Many firms, with dif- 
ferent overhead expenses, battling blindly with a market that 
is as fickle as fate, is evident waste and social extravagance. 4 

3 John Bakeless, Origin of the Next War. 

4 Stuart Chase, Waste. 



CONTEMPORARY SEX RELEASE IN LITERATURE 353 

The corporation and trust avoid this useless expenditure. 
To attain greater efficiency, therefore, the competitive enter- 
prises must give way to trustified, which again spells the 
finale of free competition in manufacture, sale and purchase. 
The eventual efficiency of it all, it is obvious, leads to a 
World Trust or Corporation. 5 But here again another con- 
tradiction is interpolated by social circumstance. Capitalism 
has deepened and aggravated nationalisms and promoted the 
national profits creed to such-an extent, fortifying it with 
armies, navies, airplanes, submarines, and gases, that wars 
gleam and glare at every maneuver of national enterprise. 
And wars threaten to destroy the very unity that industry 
inevitably demands. 6 

With the evolution of these changes and contradictions in 
economic life, and the rapidly disappearing faith in the 
laissez-faire economics of the bourgeoisie, there has weakened 
and receded the bourgeois concept of economic individualism. 
The centralization of industry which we have just described, 
and the consequent centralization of wealth, which has made 
it possible for about 2 per cent of the people of the United 
States, for instance, to own approximately 65 per cent of 
the wealth, have darkened the old cry of the Jeffersonians 
into a protest of abiding futility. In simple terms, the indi- 
vidualism, the freedom-for-all doctrine, of the bourgeoisie, 
pertinent in the early days of capitalism, has now become a 
delusive fiction. The freedom of the individual today in eco- 
nomic enterprise is very often a freedom to starve or be- 
come a wage slave. It is big business that is dominant. The 
little entrepreneur, as we have said, is mercilessly crucified. 
The individual worker is paralyzed if he stands in isolation 
and fights as an individualist. The heroics of the La Follette 
campaign in 1924 with their promise of a return to the days 
of '76 was as hopeless a gesture as the bombast of a Tam- 

5 Gillette, The People's Corporation. 

6 Angell, The Great Illusion. 



354 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

many alderman. Collectivistic labor has replaced individual- 
istic. The original individualism of the bourgeoisie has led 
to the contemporary collectivization of the proletariat. In- 
dustry today, as we said in our reference to the trusts, is 
moving in the direction of collectivism in everything but the 
proceeds. This collectivization of labor has led to another 
contradiction in the philosophy of the bourgeoisie. Its in- 
dividualism has become an absurdity. 

And from this collectivization of labor has come the or- 
ganized, swiftly solidifying proletariat, with a collectivistic 
attitude toward society. This organized proletariat has acted 
both as a source of social control and as a source of social 
destruction. Instrumental in the decadence of the bourgeoisie, 
it is also instrumental in fashioning new attitudes and new 
philosophies. A new literature has been influenced by its 
democratizing, revolutionary force. 

From all of these contradictions and catastrophes of con- 
flict have come the inevitable decadence of the bourgeoisie 
and its philosophy of life. The evidence is upon us in such 
H vivid flood of detail that only the zany can deny it. 
Bourgeois morality is disintegrating so rapidly that it has 
been flung to the defensive by the impetuosity of a revolt 
that has risen into a movement in these recent years of 
parlous change. In sex life the bourgeois rigidities have broken 
into barren rhetoric. The upper tiers of the bourgeoisie, the 
plutocracy of our day, wallowing in wealth that is unearned 
and that multiplies without a turn of the wrist, has forsaken 
the old virtues for the older vices. The moral pollution of 
the upper hundreds has become a social axiom and a news- 
paper classic. The basis of this change in life mores of the 
upper bourgeoisie, a change which periodicals parade, novels 
illustrate and courts prove, is to be explained in terms of 
simple economics. The bourgeoisie of the eighteenth and 
nineteenth centuries was an industrious class, participating 
in the actual work which made its wealth. Its economic vir- 



CONTEMPORARY SEX RELEASE IN LITERATURE, 355 

tues, as we have shown, derived their force from the exigen- 
cies of its life. Today the upper bourgeoisie is a comparatively 
leisure class, living upon unearned incomes and participating 
little if at all in the labor of production. The actual work, 
once done by the owners themselves, is now achieved by 
superintendents, managers, foremen and efficiency experts. 
The upper bourgeoisie can now winter in Florida and sum- 
mer in Maine while its wealth is squared in the mills of 
South Carolina or the mines of Mexico. As a result, the eco- 
nomic virtues of the older morality are remembered as a 
Sunday tradition but unpracticed as a week-day performance. 
In short, this group can afford to be immoral, as immorality 
is conceived according to bourgeois standards. So we have 
in our society divorce-dramas which transform the life of 
the upper bourgeoisie into a spectacular stage of newspaper 
comedy. It is the petty bourgeoisie, still suffering from eco- 
nomic uncertainty and beguiled by the illusion of suppressed 
desires, who keeps the old bourgeois morals alive with weak- 
ening but still aggressive vigor and indignation. 

Another contradiction fatal to the old bourgeois morality 
finds its curious origin in the increase of insanity. Capitalism 
has created a life of rushing excitement and expansion, of 
incessant and disconcerting change, in which the individual 
often finds adjustment difficult and disastrous. Increasing in- 
sanity, under these conditions, becomes unavoidable. Alien- 
ists come into demand. Psychiatry clinics become a neces- 
sity. Psychiatry becomes a science. Psychiatric investigations 
and theories become inevitable. Thus, Freud, Jung, Adler, 
Stekel, Janet and others become prominent. 

Sex was rediscovered by the psychoanalysts. The conse- 
quences of bourgeois morals were revealed in startling 
fashion. Something of the perfection of civilized virtue which 
the Victorians had made their boast was seen to fade into 
a putrid rationalization. Repressions became anathema. The 
Victorians had cultivated them; the moderns endeavor to 
avoid them. The dangers of repressions were seen to extend 



356 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

from the individual to the whole of society. Regardless of 
scientific caution, the Freudian theory was introduced into 
every field of analysis: philosophic, scientific and aesthetic. 
Even in literature, the novel, the story, the play, the Freudian 
concept prospered. While nations have been psychoanalyzed, 1 
and the work of genius shown to be the result of erotic 
complexes, 8 analyses more mythical perhaps in much of their 
detail than scientific, the actual substance of literature has 
been changed, in many instances, to harmonize with the new 
psychology. The phallic symbolism of Beardsley's art is 
mild compared with some of the bold configurations of mod- 
ern art and some of the stage presentations of erotic phe- 
nomena. The sex descriptions of Hardy are almost fastidious 
beside the sex descriptions of James Joyce, Sherwood An- 
derson and Theodore Dreiser. 

Reflecting a state of society, dissecting a situation of 
social abnormality, Freud, with his overwhelming emphasis 
upon sex as the central factor in all life-processes, has be- 
come the vogue in cultural circles. Freud has become as 
famous as Shakespeare and certainly more read. In fact, he 
has become a myth. * 

This reaction toward Freud is all part of the general revolt 
against bourgeois morals that has so excitingly enthralled 
our youth and so virulently enraged our fathers. A product 
of the very society which his psychology is hastening on the 
toboggan of decay, Freud's declaration that what we need 
today is not more morals but more knowledge is significant 
of a new attitude that is essentially salutary in its release 
from the repressive mores of the bourgeoisie. Only with the 
decay of the bourgeoisie, of which it is a reflection, could such 
an interpretation of life as the Freudian become at all popu- 
lar and acceptable. 

7 Oppenheim, Psychoanalysis of America. Kansas City: Haldeman- 
Julius. 

8 Kempf, Psycho pathology. Section on Darwin. Also Freud, Leo- 
nardo da Vinci. 



CONTEMPORARY SEX RELEASE IN LITERATURE 35) 

The economic independence of woman is another important 
factor in the evanescence of bourgeois virtue. In the eight- 
eenth and nineteenth centuries woman was not only eco- 
nomically dependent upon her husband, but work for her 
was taboo by custom except in the lower classes, and legal 
procedure afforded poor protection for her possessions. 
Domestic devotion was perpetuated by economic security. 
The developments in contemporary society, however, have 
changed the situation. The economic dependence of woman 
is rapidly disappearing. The political freedom, legal security 
and economic independence of the new woman have 
turned Ibsen's The Doll's House into an unthrilling anachro- 
nism. One can still recall the time when The Doll's House 
was the dramatic handbook of the feminine revolutionist. 
Today its theme, its object, are no more radical but 
commonplace. The bondage under which woman lived and 
suffered, the hothouse atmosphere which she was forced 
to breathe when confined by the dictates of bourgeois conven- 
tionality, have practically disappeared except among the 
orthodox vestiges of the old order. Nora is no longer a study 
in the future, no longer a promise but an actual fulfillment. 
The fragments of the old morality that Nora flung aside with 
such audacity and command, with the new woman of today 
have been subtly merged and lost in the rising concept of 
a new morality or been triturated into nothingness. The revo- 
lutionary is steadily fading into the bromidic. The strange has 
become ordinary, the unusual common. The movement for 
the political emancipation of women has spread almost over 
the entire civilized world. Her economic advance we have 
adverted to in earlier sentences. This growing freedom on the 
part of the new woman is a result of the hastening concen- 
tration of industrial production which has swung woman into 
its gigantic orbit and driven her to the economic as well as 
political defensive. Only in countries where industry is yet 
in embryo, in countries like Mexico and the tropical repub^ 
lies, has the condition of woman remained unchanged. So, 



358 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

Nora's heroism is no longer a breath-seizing denouement. Sex 
life has advanced in the decades that have split the day of 
The Doll's Home and ours. 

The family, as a whole, has changed. The attitudes of 
children toward their parents have gone through a score of 
searing mutations. Modern fiction reflects this revolt. Filial 
impiety and rebellion are exalted in the modern novel. The 
sexual sybarite is described today neither to horrify nor 
distress. Illegitimacy of birth or promiscuity of love, the 
midnight manias of Parisian grisettes or the flying cries and 
antics of the basement bordello, have become the common- 
place of fiction. Women parading the streets in knickers to- 
day would have been like phantoms from the world of har- 
lotry to the good-minded Victorians. This new attitude toward 
sex, the sweep and swing of the new morality, are incon- 
trovertible evidences of the decay of the old ethics and the 
old society. 

In literature the contrasts in attitudes of last century and 
this can be illustrated excellently by reference to two novels: 
George Eliot's Adam Bede and W. L. George's Bed of Roses. 
In Adam Bede we have sexual dereliction treated with a 
candor that was always characteristic of the Victorian ap- 
proach to the delicacies of sex. Hettie's sin is considered 
profound if not irremediable. Victoria Fulton's maneuvers, 
on the other hand, are considered in an utterly different 
spirit. The economic drive to prostitution is recognized, ad- 
mitted and described. The intimacies of Victoria's sex life 
are not evaded by the glib or somber phrase, or the sprinkling 
of asterisks, nor is a sermon appended to each or any of her 
defections from established virtue. As in Zola there is a cog- 
nizance of social determinism, a realization of the effect of 
environment in deciding the nature of human response, its 
beauty or baseness, its grandeur or decay. 

With the viceless Victorians a girl could not kiss until 
engaged, venture far from the fireside with a man unless 



CONTEMPORARY SEX RELEASE IN LITERATURE 359 

chaperoned, embrace until married, or bear child until the 
proper months had hallowed the preacher's gesture. But 
today, coetaneous with the emergence of the new woman > 
has come a new youth which is in active rebellion "against 
our system of taboos, tribal superstitions, intolerances and 
hypocrisies." Judge Lindsey in his recent book, The Revolt 
of Modern Youth, has made a careful and illuminating study 
of the nature of social and sexual relations between the 
youths of today, and it is because his conclusions are based 
on fact, on actual contact and observation, that they are so 
signal. Correctly observing that the revolt of youth today 
has "the whole weight and momentum of a new scientific 
and economic order behind it," Judge Lindsey enters into a 
serious investigation of facts as he has known them before 
he sets forth his conclusions. With the automobile, the tele- 
phone, the dance halls, the shores, all part of the age of 
flappers and jazz, the innocence of ignorance has dissolved. 
In the youth world of today a girl can 

go automobile riding (with boys) at 13 ... drink freely 
when 1 8 and participate in lovemaking at any time. Kissing, 
petting and other tentative excursions into sex experience are 
taken for granted. 

In other words, the Victorian girl has become obsolescent. 
As to the actual character of sex experience, Judge Lindsey's 
conclusions are again striking if not startling. After an 
examination of cases and averages, it seems a conservative 
estimate to state that 50 per cent of high -school boys have 
sex relations either with their girl friends or prostitutes. 
Among high-school girls the figures are even more interest- 
ing as a index to our changing morality. More than 90 per 
cent indulge in kissing and hugging, at least 50 per cent of 
this 90 per cent indulge in other sex liberties, which "by all 
conventions are outrageously improper," and 15 per cent to 
9 Ben B. Lindsey, The Revolt of Modern Youth. 



360 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

25 per cent of the original 90 per cent "eventually go the 
limit." 10 

Compare this status of morality with the status of morality 
of the Victorian girl and a picture is presented that is un- 
forgettable for its stark and vivid contrast. 

Out of all of these chaotic changes and contraditions in 
social system and social ethics, has come the new literature 
with its new freedom and its new morality. Victorian smug- 
ness has become a despicable deceit except with the Frank 
Cranes and Henry Van Dykes who decorate it with starched 
metaphor and stale simile. Victorian realism has become con- 
temporary sentimentalism. The aesthetes of the 1890*5 had 
begun to break away from the Victorian tradition; the 
aesthetes of the teens and twenties of our century have com- 
pleted the rebellion. 

However we may regard the psychology of Freudianism, 
the problem of sex in modern society is of incalculable sig- 
nificance. The Victorians in trying to ignore and suppress 
it committed a grave error. There can be no genuine realism 
if the sex motif be eliminated from the substance. To again 
admit the sex motif meant a return to the candor of de- 
scription which bourgeois literature had eclipsed. It did not, 
nevertheless, revert to the candor of sex representation that 
had given Elizabethan literature such passionate energy and 
power. Civilization has changed. Individualism has spread. 
Sex antics have complicated. Eccentricity has been cultivated, 
and insanity has increased. Repressions have diverted im- 
pulse and twisted it into strange shapes and drives. Madness 
has become allied with genius and the morbid with the pro- 
found. Sex expression in the new literature, therefore, is not 
the bold gay affair that it was in the hands of the old 
dramatists, but has added to its ingenuousness and zeal, in 
> line with the new civilization which it mirrors, a fascination 
for the interstitial manifestations of erotic affection and be- 

10 It is important to remember that, as Judge Lindsey says, his 
cases are "drawn from all levels of society." 



CONTEMPORARY SEX RELEASE IN LITERATURE 361 

havior. Bourgeois life and literature had endeavored to stifle 
natural tendencies and urges. The outbreak against this re- 
action was necessarily extensive and violent. While genuine 
realism cannot escape sex, it can be ruined by preoccupation 
with the theme to the exclusion of everything else, as in the 
absurdities of Many Marriages, and thus turned from the 
intense to the insipid. After all, as we have seen, sex ex- 
pression in literature is an expression of social life, of class 
tendencies and group economics, and an enduring realism 
should aim neither to be hindered nor consumed by sex. 

The protest against sex freedom in contemporary litera- 
ture has seemed amazingly childish and sacrosanct. Fortu- 
nately, it is a losing protest. The age is in conspiracy against 
it. The changing economic conditions, which we described in 
earlier paragraphs and chapters, with the resultant decay of 
bourgeois morality, have produced a different reading public 
AS well as a different author's psychology. Many of the ladies 
of the last century, who would not read Mrs. Aphra Behn, 
were they living today would read Mr. Sherwood Anderson 
or Mr. Theodore Dreiser, or if interested in popular fiction 
devour the novels of Beatrice Burton and Elinor Glyn. While 
the bourgeoisie, through their censorship and vice commit- 
tees, may still suppress books dangerous to their morals, the 
advance of the new literature continues notwithstanding. 
American and English literatures of today have been cap- 
tured by the insurgents. The new literature is synonymous 
with the new morality. 

The conflict between the old school and the new, the men- 
tally lapidified vestiges of the old order and the actively 
courageous defendants of the new, has been no mild or list- 
less affair. The old scare-faces are still voraciously eager for 
attack. They are still intent upon purifying literature of 
value. Books are still banned and their plates confiscated by 
the contemporary Endicotts. But the battle, as we said, is 
going the other way. The brave essay of Mr. Mencken, Puri- 
tanism a Literary Force, the singular dissections of the 



362 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

bourgeois attitude by Harvey O'Higgins' The American 
Mind in Action, the piercing study of Randolph Bourne, 
The Puritan's Will to Power, and a score of other studies 
and analyses, reflecting the trend of the new motif, have not 
been without influence. Zola may still be objected to by the 
sex-starved spinsters of the purity league, the Dial excluded 
from the files of a public library, but the cynosures of 
American and English literature today are anti-bourgeois in 
morality if not in economics. The defense of the bourgeoisie 
grows more aggressive as it is driven to the corner, and hence 
its vigorous attempts at suppression today are but natural 
continuations of its old tradition, intensified, however, by 
the stress of situation that is steadily and sharply converting 
its protest into futility. 

The actual developments in this struggle for freedom from 
the fetters of a decaying social class are abundant with farce 
and tragedy. Extending from the famous case of the man 
who was arrested for sending a passage from the Bible 
through the mails and the notorious instance of a volume 
of Ovid being interrupted by the Post Office at Baltimore 
while on its v/ay to the hands of a tame professor at Johns 
Hopkins University, to the actual prosecuting of authors and 
imprisonment of publishers, 11 the melodrama of suppression 
has furnished the reading public with exciting diversion and 
thrill. The forensics involved have been flavored with a 
mingling of casuistry, cleverness and stupidity. In no other 
testimony is the clash of social and moral attitudes more 
nakedly revealed 

Although the new intransigeants have leaped into the liter- 
ary limelight, it should not be thought that their new litera- 
ture has not suffered from the ferocity of the virtuous. In 
the gallant game of suppression and destruction, Anthony 
Comstock has been most dutifully illustrious. In his zeal for 
virtuous banality he destroyed 

11 Henry Vizetelly, for instance, was imprisoned at the age of sev- 
enty-three for publishing Zola's works. 



CONTEMPORARY SEX RELEASE IN LITERATURE 363 

. . . something over fifty tons of vile books; 28,425 pounds 
of stereotype plates for printing such books; 3,984,063 ob- 
scene pictures; 16,900 negatives for printing such pictures; 
3,646 persons have been arrested and of these 2,682 have 
been convicted or pleaded guilty, and 2,180 have been sen- 
tenced. If the matters which have been seized were to be 
transported this would require sixteen freight cars, fifteen 
loaded with ten tons each, and the other nearly full. If the 
persons arrested were to be transported, sixty-one passenger 
coaches would be needed, each with a seating capacity of 
sixty persons, sixty cars filled, and the other nearly full. 1 * 
(Italics mine.) 

In this holocaust have suffered works of genuine merit 
and authors of genuine distinction. 

Corns tock's defense-rationalization was notable for its 
ludicrousness: 

It is a question of Peace, Good Order and Morals and not 
of Art, Literature or Science. Art for art purposes in art 
gallery, medical works for medical and scientific men, and 
standard literature for literary persons and students, does 
not mean that the nude in art, anatomical plates from medical 
works, nor bawdy and obscene extracts from standard authors 
have a right to be placed before immature minds, when such 
exhibition, sale or indiscriminate circulation tends to en- 
danger the morals of the young. 13 

Mr. John S. Sumner, Comstock's worthy successor, acting 
as the secretary to the New York Society for the Suppression 
of Vice, continues the same wail in his statement of the pur- 
pose of the society: 

As the general work of the Society, this corporation was 
organized in 1873 to enforce the laws seeking to suppress 
traffic in obscene, lewd, lascivious, indecent, filthy, and dis- 
gusting books or publications, and for other purposes. This 

12 Charles Gallaudet Trumbull, Anthony Comstock, Fighter, p. 230 

13 Anthony Comstock. Quoted from p. 73 of the Report of the 
Emergency Committee organized to protest against suppression at 
Jurgen. 



364 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

law does not make exception as to the publications of any 
particular class. That is, it does not distinguish between the 
writings of John Doe, who has no reputation, or Richard 
Doe, who is a distinguished author; nor have the courts in 
interpreting this law, permitted the intent of the author, ex- 
pressed or implied, to influence them in their decisions. If 
the language of a book is lewd, or if it is suggestive of lewd- 
ness, it is a violation of the law, regardless of the literary 
or artistic character of the published matter. Some of the 
court decisions have held that a writing of an obscene charac- 
ter was more dangerous when couched in fine language than 
when set forth in crude form, and this is undoubtedly true. 14 

The opposing stand of Mr. Horace Liveright, a pub- 
lisher, in his attack upon the censors in the defense of the 
insurgents, is striking in its denial of the bourgeois con- 
tention: 

Certain fiction, which seems to be the principal object of 
attack today, expresses itself according to the contemporary 
interpretation of science, abnormal psychology, psychoanaly- 
sis, and other methods of study of human behavior. Art and 
mind are always in process of change ; a new age has a new 
literary and philosophic expression. But this affects only the 
intelligent-minded; never the ignorant. . . . 

We may become depraved by, or vicious by, economic or 
physical conditions, but certainly not by literature. 

There is nothing pornographic in any work of literature 
or even such books as can be classified as literature. Porno- 
graphic books have been issued but they are manufactured 
by obscure printers in Europe and America, and are sold by 
peddlers ; they are not issued by publishers or reliable print- 
ers. 15 

It should be realized, at this point, that the censorship of 
books has gone through a process of social evolution. Its 
origin was purely political. Utilized as a method of combat- 
ing books and publications subversive to the sovereignty of 

14 Page 10 of the Report. 

16 Horace Liveright, "The Absurdity of Censorship," Independent 
Magazine, March 17, 1923. 



CONTEMPORARY SEX RELEASE IN LITERATURE 365 

the ruling power, it was employed at the time of Elizabeth 
and speedily became a device sanctioned by the repetition 
of expediency. Its legal justification in England, for example, 
depends upon two acts, one passed in 1737 and the other 
in 1843, the second of which crowns the censor as the direct 
licensing authority for London and endows him with the 
means of enforcing his decisions. In the eighteenth century it 
was Sir Robert Walpole, who, irritated at the satire of Field- 
ing and Gray, effected the first gesture in this game by trying 
to stop the exposures of his corruption. Today with the dis- 
integration of the ethics of the bourgeoisie, the center of 
attack has shifted soil from the political to the moral. Cen- 
sorship now affects to be a moral cathartic. Politically, in 
England and America, to be sure, the bourgeoisie is still 
in control, but the proletariat, at least in England, is steadily 
gaining ground, and when the test of situation demands, as 
in the instance of the World War, censorship of economic 
and political polemics will become as severe as ethical. In 
the advance of literature, however, it has been the ethical 
proclivities of the censor that have proved more dangerous 
and drastic. 

Before penetrating further into the attitudes of the two 
groups, let us note some of the actual achievements of these 
endeavorers in the cause of virtue. The trial of Flaubert, the 
burning of Swinburne's poems, the incarceration of Zola's 
publisher, have become so memorable that they are classic. 
While Shaw's play, Mrs. Warren's Profession, was censored, 
it met with a curious moral defense in many places. In the 
Edinburgh Review, for instance, in 1905, one of its writers 
declared : 

A play with finer moral determination than Mrs. Warren's 
Profession has not been produced in Europe during the last 
twenty years. 

Shaw himself maintained in manner as clever as it was 
provocative: 



366 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

I write plays with the deliberate object of converting the 
nation to my opinions. My reputation has been gained by 
my persistent struggle to force the public to reconsider its 
morals. 

The case of The Shewing Up of Blanco Posnet is more 
singular. This Shavian play was censored in 1909. In this, as 
in all other instances of moral censorship, the stupidity of 
the bourgeois attitude is painfully apparent. Here are a 
few of the speeches censored: 

Elder Daniels. Oh, is that the way to speak of the ruler 
of the universe the great and almighty God? 

Blanco. He's a sly one. He's a mean one. He lies low for 
you. He plays cat and mouse with you. He lets you run loose 
until you think you're shut of Him; and then, when you 
least expect it, He's got you. 

EL D. Speak more respectful, Blanco more reverent. 

B. Reverent! Who taught you your reverent cant? Not 
your Bible. It says He cometh like a thief in the night 
aye, like a thief a horse thief. 

ELD. Oh! 

B. And it's true. That's how He caught me and put my 
neck into the halter. To spite me because He had no use for 
me, because I lived my own life and would have no truck 
with His "Don't do this," and "You mustn't do that," and 
"You'll go to Hell if you do the other." I gave Him the go- 
bye and did without Him all these years. But He caught me 
out at last. The laugh is with Him as far as hanging me goes. 

And here, by way of contrast, are a few that were allowed 
to go unscathed: 

Blanco. I accuse the fair Euphemia of immoral relations 
with every man in this town, including yourself, Sheriff. I 
say this is a conspiracy to kill me between Feemy and 
Strapper because I wouldn't touch Feemy with a pair of 
tongs. I say you daren't hang any white man on the word of 
a woman of bad character. I stand on the honor and virtue 
of my American manhood. I say that she's not had the oath, 
because her lips would blaspheme the holy Bible if they 



CONTEMPORARY SEX RELEASE IN LITERATURE 367 

touched it. I say that's the law; and if you are a proper 
United States Sheriff and not a low-down lyncher, you'll 
hold up the law and not let it be dragged in the mud by 
your brother's kept woman. 

and 

The Sheriff. . . . We don't wish to be hard on any woman ; 
and most of us have a personal regard for Miss Evans 
(Feemy) for the sake of old times. . . . 

Feemy. Worse people than I has kissed that Book. What 
wrong I've done, most of you went shares in. I've to live, 
haven't I? 

Shaw's comment on the censorship in his Preface to the 
play is vivid: 

He (the censor) licensed the play, but endorsed on hi? 
license the condition that all the passages which implicated 
God in his history of B. P. must be omitted in representation. 
All the coarseness, the profligacy, the prostitution, the vio- 
lence, the drinking-bar humor into which the light shines in 
the play are licensed, but the light itself is extinguished. 

But with all of this stupidity, this narrowness of class bias 
and sentiment, the censorship in the case of The Shewing Up 
of Blanco Posnet was mild in its mutilations as compared 
with the treatment of other plays and novels. The Town 
Councilors of Belfast, for example, destroyed the works of 
Nietzsche, and at Doncaster someone discovered a copy of 
Tom Jones which was at once denounced and destroyed by 
burning. 16 In New York the onslaught upon Sholom Asch's 
play The God of Vengeance was another tragic fiasco. On 
the testimony of two detectives who witnessed the per- 
formance: 

The producer . . . and eleven actors in the case, includ- 
ing the distinguished Rudolph Schildkraut, (were) convicted 
by a jury of the Court of General Sessions of violating the 
penal laws of the State of New York. Judge Mclntyre . . . 

16 English Review, February, 1913. 



368 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

fined the producer and Mr. Schildkraut $200 each. He might 
have sent every member of the cast to Sing Sing for three 
years. 17 

Other cases neither so notorious in absurdity nor so violent 
in extremity are not less significant. Sudermann's Song of 
Songs and Mr. Niel Lyon's Cottage Pie were both sup- 
pressed in England 18 and both Zangwill's play The Next 
Religion and Eden Phillpotts' The Secret Woman 19 were 
banned by the censor. 20 Laurence Housman's Bethlehem and 
Pains and Penalties also were both banned from the stage. 21 
Mr. Garnett'3 The Breaking Point and Granville Barker's 
Waste suffered a similar catastrophe. And thus the censors at- 
tempted to purify the stage for the perpetuation of bourgeois 
virtue and the cause of emasculated drama. 

With the novel the tragedy deepens. In 1909 the tame 
temptations of Ann Veronica were denounced. In the Spec- 
tator Mr. Wells' novel was classified as "A Poisonous Book" 
and its teaching described as "pernicious." The reviewer's 
account of the depravity of the novel is fine farce: 

The indignation which the book inspires in us is due to the 
effect it is likely to have in undermining that sense of con- 
tinence and self-control in the individual which is essential 
to a sound and healthy state. The book is based on the nega- 
tion of woman's purity and of man's good faith in the rela- 
tions of sex. It teaches, in effect, that there is no such thing 
as a woman's honor, or if there is, it is only a bulwark against 
a weak temptation. When the temptation is strong enough, 
not only is the tempted person justified in yielding, but such 
yielding becomes not merely inevitable but something to be 
welcomed and glorified. If an animal yearning or lust is 
only sufficiently absorbing, it is to be obeyed. Self-sacrifice 

17 "Drama and Detectives." Nation, June 6, 1923. 

18 English Review, February, 1911. 

19 The novel, The Secret Woman (of which the play is a dramati- 
zation), it is amusing to observe, was not banned. 

20 English Review, March, 1912. 

21 The Spectator, December 2, 1911. 



CONTEMPORARY SEX RELEASE IN LITERATURE 369 

is a dream and self-restraint a delusion. Such things have no 
place in the muddy world of Mr. Wells' imaginings. His is 
a community of shuffling stoats and ferrets, unenlightened 
by a ray of duty or abnegation. 

But while it is human to err and Christlike to pity and 
forgive, the great duties and prohibitions of life remain, and 
woe to those who cover them with the slime of their faint- 
scented sophistries. 22 

In the same year the Times Book Club refused to supply 
Henry James' Italian Hours to a subscriber "on the grounds 
that it was not likely to promote the library's reputation as 
circulators of wholesome literature." 23 D. H. Lawrence's The 
Rainbow was destroyed by order of court, and Lawrence 
wrote no other novel for five years. Arnold Bennett's novel, 
The Pretty iMtly, due to the author's alertness to fight, es- 
caped this miscarriage of moral zeal. Bennett's description 
of the situation is delightfully frank and encouraging: 

With reference to your Emergency Committee Protest, my 
view is that the police alone should have the right to prose- 
cute an author. To give to any private society the right to 
prosecute on public grounds is bound to lead to grave in- 
justice. In England the number of private prosecutors is now 
almost nil, and I believe that no effective private prosecution 
can be begun without the consent of the Attorney-General. 
Two private societies in England took very strong objection 
to my novel The Pretty Lady not on moral but on sec- 
tarian religious grounds! They demanded the suppression 
of the book. As soon as they discovered I was a fighter they 
let the matter drop. 24 

In New York the Society for the Suppression of Vice took 
action against A Young Girl's Diary, D. H. Lawrence's 
Women in Love, and Schnitzler's Casanova's Homecoming; 
the last two were privately printed, but the society assailed 

22 The Spectator, November 20, 1909. 

23 Charles Tennyson, "The Libraries Censorship," Contemporary 
Review, April, 1910. 

24 Arnold Bennett, "Reply to a Letter.'' Page 48 of the Report. 



370 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

them, notwithstanding. 25 Jude the Obscure, The Damnation 
of Theron Ware, Hagar Revelly, Homo Sapiens, Trilby, 
Edna, A Summer in Arcady, Susan Lenox all were victim- 
ized in one way or another by the virtuosi of virtue. Other 
books that afforded further expression for the sadism of the 
society were Dreiser's The Genius, Guido Brun's Edna, the 
Girl of the Street, and Madeleine The Vice Society of 
Cincinnati, for instance, found that The Genius, alas, con- 
tained seventy-five lewd passages and seventeen profane.- 7 
F. L. Rowe, secretary of the Western Society for the Sup- 
pression of Vice, stated one of the developments in the case 
as follows : 

Reverend John Herget, of Ninth Street Baptist Church, 
became acquainted with the book when he was called to the 
telephone by an unidentified person who complained. We 
immediately procured a copy of the present issue and find 
it filled with obscenity and blasphemy. We have succeeded 
in having it removed from practically every bookstore in the 
city. 28 

A gratifying reversal that the New York Society met with 
occurred in its conflict with Mr. Raymond Halsey of the 
McDevitt-Wilson Co. Mr. Halsey was arrested for publish- 
ing Mile, de Maupin; the case was dismissed, Mr. Halsey 
sued, and the Society was forced to pay $2,500 in damages 
and costs. 29 The case of Jurgen was less fortunate, although 
after two years the ban was lifted, and Mr. CabelPs books 
today sell more widely and continuously than they ever did 
before the suppression of his novel. Jurgen was published on 
September 27, 1919. All plates, copies, and sheets of Jurgen 
were seized on January 14, 1920. An Emergency Committee 
was formed to protest against the suppression. Many of them 

25 "With Intent to Corrupt." The Nation, July 26, 1922. 

26 Report of the Emergency Committee. 

27 Report of the Authors' League. 

28 Cincinnati Enquirer September 14, 1916. 

29 Page 26 of the Report. 



CONTEMPORARY SEX RELEASE IN LITERATURE 371 

unfortunately revealed an unabashed bourgeois twist of 
tongue. The members of the old school, the Paul Elmer 
Mores 30 and vestigial Howellsians, steadily stood by the 
bourgeois tradition. The new school, however, has continued 
courageously its fight for a free literature. 

With the magazines, three recent episodes are notorious. 
In 1920 the Little Review was convicted of obscenity on the 
complaint of the New York Society for the Suppression of 
Vice. Early in 1926 the American Mercury was attacked in 
Boston by the Watch and Ward Society and forbidden sale 
to customers, and a few months later in the same year the 
New Masses was prohibited from the mails by the United 
States Postal Service. The American Mercury was assailed 
for a simple story of prostitution in a small village in which 
the protagonist passed under the exciting name of Hatrack, 
which, since the test trial in Boston, has become an appel- 
lation of enchanting suggestiveness and salacity. 31 Among 
other things the New Masses was banned from the mails for 
the publication of several unrevolutionary, untitillating, un- 
inspired poems by a Yale professor. Of course, the brave 
stand that the New Masses has taken against the capitalist 
system will strengthen its logic but weaken its privileges 
in the eyes of the censors, postal and private. 

In Los Angeles another scene in the drama of virtue was 
recently enacted. At the close of the performance of Eugene 
O'NeiU's play Desire Under the Elms, on February i8th of 
this year, all of the actors were seized by the police on the 
charge of having presented a play dangerous to the morals 
of the American people. The actors were detained under 

30 Paul Elmer More's letter is typical of his ilk; "I am not at all in 
sympathy with a group of writers who would take any protest against 
the Society as a justification of what they are pleased to call art. The 
harm done by the Society seems to me very slight, whereas the harm 
done by the self-styled artist may be very great." 

31 Canoes have been named Hatrack, automobiles dubbed with the 
title, and parties dedicated to her honor. Thus a story that would 
have passed unobserved has become a fillip to the national palate. In 
addition, Mr. Mencken won the case when it was tried in Boston. 



372 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

arrest until four-thirty the next morning, their fingerprints 
having been taken as a precaution against their escape, and 
not allowed to go at liberty until a bail of $850 had been 
provided. A jury trial ensued, in which the outraged moral- 
ists testified that their ears had been offended by such pro- 
fanity as "damn/' "hell," and "whore," and their consciences 
embarrassed by the presentation of a plot feeding upon 
filth and degeneracy. The defendants clubwomen, the wife 
of the dean of the University of Southern California, the 
dramatic critics of the Los Angeles newspapers, and a girl 
and a boy all stated that: 

to them the play was not immoral far from it. It was a 
literary and dramatic tour de force. It taught a strong, whole- 
some, moral lesson: the wages of sin is death. When they 
came from the theater they felt cleansed, morally elevated. 82 

After deliberating for almost nine hours, eight of the jury 
were for conviction, four for acquittal. 

The play continued and Los Angeles was demoralized by 
a run of over ten weeks which the citizens demanded by 
their prosperous attendance. 

In their attitude toward these devastating violations of 
artistic intelligence, the bourgeois literati are in vapid 
acquiescence. Hamlin Garland, in sentiment conspicuous for 
its moral myopia, expresses their attitude: 

Since the war the number of our writers who are imitating 
the French, the Norwegian, and the Russian have notably 
increased. Half the plays on our stage this year are said to 
be adaptations of farces from Vienna or Paris, and several 
of our younger novelists are bringing to our fiction that 
eroticism which has so long been the peculiar province of 
the "French novel/' In others the brutal plainness of speech 
of certain Scandinavian writers and the pessimistic animalism 
of modern Russian novelists appear, while many of the Eng- 
lish novelists imported by our publishers are of the decadent 
quality of Matisse and Archepenko. Design is lost. The 

82 "Los Angeles Must Be Kept Pure," Nation, May 19, 1926. 



CONTEMPORARY SEX RELEASE IN LITERATURE 373 

sense of humor which should be a corrective is absent. It 
would seem that we are importing the vices and not the vir- 
tues of Old World art. 

Per contra, among the younger writers I sense a quality 
akin to the jazz band, the modern dance, and the moving 
picture, and while I am willing to grant that each generation 
must have its chance to state itself in its own, way, I find 
myself revolted by an overinsistence on sex themes and by a 
kind of sad ego-mania in these writers. Their characters 
whine and complain and shirk. As poets they are obsessed 
with their own petty concerns. As novelists they have small 
sense of humor or proportion, and for the most part they are 
lacking in sound craftsmanship. After reading a few of them 
I am filled with disgust of their futility, and I return to 
Howells with a sense of getting back to broad culture, sanity, 
humor, and good workmanship (Italics mine.) 

Booth Tarkjngton is scarcely less explicit or less puri- 
tanical : 

I read so few of the modern novels that I really shouldn't 
make any generalization, but of those I had read, many seem 
to be in bad taste. When the book is written by one of my 
contemporaries, I feel that he has succumbed to this craze 
for erotic literature simply because he knows he will make 
more money by that kind of book. When it's written by a 
young writer just starting out, it's more likely to be a de- 
liberate seeking of the salacious because that is the easiest 
way to get a book published. And a young author is so pas- 
sionately self-assertive, so indignant about his art, any criti- 
cism seems terrible to him. 

Establishing a censorship would certainly check the tend- 
ency, but the real solution to my mind lies in awakening the 
good taste of the public. I don't think real people read all 
this trash. The problem is to make the twenty million dis- 
regard it, too. That was the solution after the Elizabethan 
age. Literature has never been as raw as it was then. It 
wasn't Puritanism that put a stop to the publishing of in- 

83 Quotation from the New York Times in the Literary Digest, 
January 19, 1924. 



374 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

decent books then. It was that they offended good taste, and 
a wave of repugnance for them spread until they were not 
read by anyone who counted, and that is what will have to 
happen here. (Italics mine.) 

Henry Holt, in a letter to the New York Times, betrayed 
the same prejudice; Bliss Perry, in a speech before the Boston 
Watch and Ward Society (1923), warned his audience that 
"the American public is now facing a clear and present 
danger through unclean books"; H. W. Boynton, in an 
article in the Independent, contended that "most of the re- 
cent American and British novels which are most offensive 
to people who think dignity and continence have something 
to do with art, are plain mongrels/' 84 but the triumphant 
climax was left for Henry Van Dyke, the anachronistic Gali- 
lean who in his disdain for both the insurgents and the for- 
eigners gave utterance to a flash of wisdom that it would 
be tragic not to quote: 

What do I care for the ever so realistically painted 
marionettes in the fiction of Messrs. Gawky, Popoff, Drop- 
off? ... or the dismal, despicable figures who are pulled 
through the pages of The Way of All Flesh? 

Among the magazines the attitude of the bourgeoisie is 
represented with admirable precision, penetration and candor 
by an editorial in the Ladies' Home Journal: 

We are told that the only great poets of the day are those 
who are writing epics on sex perversion. 

We are told that the only worthwhile novelists are those 
who are dramatizing the romances and tragedies of middle- 
aged men and women who are seeking a rejuvenation so as 
to prolong their carnal indulgence. 

Drunkenness, lust, murder, refinements of brutality, 
avarice, covetousness, should be analyzed and explained in 
an infinity of detail in order that they may be justified or 
glorified. Demonology is preferable to Christianity as a back- 
ground for fiction. Know Your Neighbor for a Beast should 

14 "Native Versus Alien Standards/ Independent, March 17, 1923. 



CONTEMPORARY SEX RELEASE IN LITERATURE 375 

be substituted for the Golden Rule. The decalogue was 
meant for morons. (A moron is anyone who disagrees with 
a prophet of expressionism or the modernist trend in liter- 
ature.) The Beatitudes are a poetic fancy, but of poetry old 
style and not today's. . . . 

But it is the higher culture, say the book critics particu- 
larly the daring ones fresh from college the professors of 
literature, and all the ultra-ultras of free verse and free love. 
It is the opposite of soothing syrup and moral purpose fables; 
it causes one to think the profound thoughts of gifted 
idiots. Once you catch the tempo a brief correspondence 
course will put you in rhythm it is worth more than a 
lifetime of experience, contacts, travel and serious study. 
Cross out forever your Aristotles and Platos, your Bacons 
and Newtons, your Goethes and Shakespeares, your Comtes 
and Spencers and Emersons, your Darwins and Huxleys, 
your Henry Jameses dodoes of the past and swarm be- 
hind the banners of our Bertrand Russells and Havelock 
Ellises. And there is a fine fat vogue for it, say the pub- 
lishers who specialize in it. 35 

It is striking to note that while the Board of Temperance, 
Prohibition and Public Morals of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church discovered that "in years past when there has been 
dirt upon the American stage it has been American dirt," and 
that "at present shows on the New York stage are as foreign 
to America as anything which could be tolerated in Suez," 
the censors rarely carry their attacks upon the New York 
stage beyond the forms of verbal denunciation. The same 
play that was attacked in Los Angeles, Desire Under the 
Elms, and also such bawdy dramas as Lulu Belle and The 
Shanghai Gesture, were all passed upon by the censorship 
juries. As one writer expressed it: 

The Society is blind enough on ordinary occasions, but it 
knows a vested interest when it sees one. And so with regard 
to the theater. If the Broadway stage is not organized to 
stir and encourage the sexual emotions, then nothing on 

85 "The Filth Uplifters," August, 1924. 



376 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

earth is. But here the Society for the Suppression of Vice, 
though acute enough to smell out novelties, never touches 
the traditional and established forms of temptations. 36 

It is this same bourgeois attitude that has rendered the atti- 
tude of the British Museum so ridiculous. The volumes of 
Havelock Ellis' Psychology of Sex series have been excluded. 
G. W. Foote's Illustrated Bible, and Leo Taxil's La Bible 
Amusante have been buried without record, and pictures of 
indecent objects discovered at Pompeii and a valuable book 
about Greek folklore have been uncatalogued so that the 
public cannot secure them. Edward Carpenter's Intermediate 
Sex was tabooed, but later was included in the catalogue. 87 

Thus the struggle between the two groups has raced. The 
new morality is upon us. The new literature is upon us. The 
very evidence of the bitterness of the struggle is proof of 
the vitality of the new literature. While the bourgeoisie de- 
claims and protests, Aldous Huxley writes his Leda and Fifth 
Philosopher's Song, Sherwood Anderson pens his sex-emanci- 
pated stories of fact and fiction, and Theodore Dreiser de- 
picts the bared souls of passion-driven men and women. 
Floyd Dell finds in love an art and Cabell in sex a symbol. 
D. H. Lawrence poetizes the erotic and sublimates the fac- 
tual. James Joyce transforms passion into a psychography 
which bewilders by its vividness and overwhelms by its in- 
tensity. Swinburne and Whitman, Flaubert and Maupassant, 
precursors of the protest that has now become a trend, are 
but pale passion flowers beside the red Priapian shoots of 
their successors. Readers who believe that passion is a part 
of life, and who once had to resort to the Memoirs of Fanny 
Hill, can now find in the new literature the reality that 
bourgeois literature lacked. 

While Florenz Ziegfeld has just threatened to "join with 

86 "Again the Literary Censor." The Nation, September 25, 1920. 

87 "The Taboos of the British Museum," E. S. P. Haynes, English 
Review, 191^ 



CONTEMPORARY SEX RELEASE IN LITERATURE 377 

John S. Sumner, of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, 
in a move to purify the stage, 38 the Follies of which he is the 
exponent, and the musical comedy of which Americans boast, 
scarcely excite our attention through their resemblance to 
Victorian taste and tedium. While plays like The Shanghai 
Gesture, Lulu Belle, and Seduction, with all of their catas- 
trophic patency, abound in candor that would paralyze the 
sensibilities of a Victorian, musical comedies like Jessie 
James and Cocoanuts surpass them in suggestiveness and 
salacity. The contemporary musical comedy, the artistic 
abortion of our era, is another outlet for the sex release of 
our day. Part of the Jazz Age, the musical comedy reflects 
the direction of our moral attitudes and social satisfactions. 
Although the new literature has become a movement and 
its followers become many, the musical comedy has become 
a passion and its devotees become countless. The clean sex 
release found in the new literature is translated into a smirk- 
ing, insinuating pornography in the musical comedy. The 
bold, fearless approach to the problems of sex by the new 
literati stands forth in contrast to the tantalizing innuendo, 
the covert allusion, the Parthian pornography of the musical 
comedy. In the freedom of the new literature, with its break 
from the traditions of the bourgeoisie, is an essence of 
reconstruction; in the furtive insinuation and risible sexual- 
ity of the musical comedy is nothing but the putrescent core 
of decay. 89 

The sex freedom of the new literature is a step toward its 
final emancipation. The anti-bourgeois attitude in morality 
is gradually being driven toward an anti-bourgeois attitude 
in economics. The nineteenth century, as we have seen, with 
the rise and struggle of the proletariat had brought with it 
the proletarian sentimentalists and a proletarian trend in 

88 Baltimore Sun, July, 1926. 

39 Of course, there are exceptions among musical comedies, al- 
though the rule is rather rigid. Apple Blossoms is one of the exceptions 



378 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

literature. 40 This proletarian trend was evidence of the be- 
ginning of a conflict that was to be neither short nor sweet. 
Where bourgeois characters had been featured and extolled 
in the bourgeois literature of the generations that had fol- 
lowed the ascendancy of the bourgeoisie in England, the 
proletarian sentimentalists turned toward characters of the 
proletariat for their heroes and idols. This tendency was 
Emphatically prominent in the Gaskell-Kingsley school. With 
the twentieth century the trend has lost something of its senti- 
mentality, although it still has to acquire definiteness and de- 
cision. 

At the present time, due to the recent recoil from the 
effects of the bourgeois suppression of the last century and 
the bewildering ecstasy of the new freedom, there is a pre- 
occupation with sex in literature that, in all likelihood, will 
diminish in the next few generations. With the gradual 
breakdown of the family, its compulsoriness of union and 
rigidity of organization, the mystery and confusion of sex 
are being annihilated in a process of clarification and co- 
ordination. With the weakening of the private-property 
regime a new ethic is born. Sex will be neither maximized nor 
minimized, neither exalted nor degraded, neither concealed 
nor advertised. Today sex is maximized and advertised, ex- 
ploited and exhausted as theme and thesis a natural tend- 
ency in time of class decay and social disintegration. 

With the coming changes in society the young people will 
neither be consumed by sex nor confused by its manifesta- 
tions, but, as in Russia today, they will 

discuss sex relations, abortions and love with the candor of 
obstetricians. 41 

40 We reiterate that this has nothing to do with proletarian art, 
which is art produced by the proletariat itself, for the sake of the 
proletariat. 

41 Paul Blanchard, "Sex Standards in Moscow," Nation, May 12, 
1926. 



CONTEMPORARY SEX REUSASE IN LITERATURE 379 

Sex will become a part of life but not the whole of life, 
an expression of life but not the art of life. The reticences 
which have surrounded sex will have surrendered to the reali- 
ties that constitute it. The literary artist will deal with sex 
without ceremony or prudery, without affectation or timid- 
ity. But this newer freedom for literati and layman will come 
only from the freedom of a newer society. 



HERMAPHRODITES * 

By Robert Herrick 

"So there are also men who write like women," I said to 
myself, as I scanned the weekly effusion of a moderately 
celebrated critic with an accustomed sense of futility in the 
effort to discover solid ground beneath the surface of his 
supple phrases, to evoke for my own satisfaction the piece he 
was supposedly discussing. It couldn't be done! At least, I 
could not create from so many exquisite words (borrowed 
from all the arts and a few trades) the plain realities my 
mind demands. As often these days, I must resign myself to 
sniffing the agreeable perfume of the words or abandon the 
thing altogether. I am aware that the critic gets much pleas- 
ure out of the weekly display of his expertise in saying as 
nearly nothing as is possible with the flourish of many 
pretty words, and doubtless some of his readers get a similar 
pleasure an exhilaration of thinking they are thinking 
perhaps even more than they might derive from the piece 
itself. ... Of course, I reflected, such times as these there 
must be many men who consciously or unconsciously are 
writing like women. Why not when sex distinctions are 
breaking down all around, when the two sexes are becoming 
functionally merged and confused, so that no longer does the 
sex denominator in the human fraction mean what it once 
did, and all generalizations (including my own!) based on 
sex appear emptier than do most other generalizations? "So 
like a woman" has long since lost whatever point it may 
once have had, because, alas, it is also like so many men 
one knows. 

Nevertheless, to my old-fashioned mind there are still dis- 

1 From the Bookman, July, 1929. 

380 



HERMAPHRODITES 381 

tinctions between male and female, even in letters, that 
should be preserved for the healthy functioning of both sexes. 

I recall a dinner given not so long ago to a visiting English- 
woman, who had written a few talked-about novels and was 
then engaged in discovering these United States and telling 
the world what she found here. As she entered the drawing- 
room accompanied by one of our younger writers, I was at 
once struck by the contrast between the two: the woman 
large and sturdy, with a dark down on her handsome upper 
lip, while the man was slight, pale, dapper, the curve of hips 
being accentuated by the tailoring habit of the day, a little 
chin fading away from a small mouth. It would not have 
taken much change in make-up or costume to shift the sexes 
of the two. The American's voice when he spoke was soft 
and languid, insinuating and caressing, while the English- 
woman boomed forth her platitudes in serene confidence. 
The conversation thereafter resolved itself largely into a co- 
operative exhibition of these two, the visitor trying to sum 
up all our vagrant culture (as gathered during her six weeks' 
lecture tour) and the American writer supplying an em- 
broidery of innuendoes and exclamation points. Both toyed 
with phrases which they sought . to make realities for the 
company, although the ideas were apparently in tenebris. 
. . . They were still at it when I left, plucking generalities 
from thin air. That method is one of the chief marks of the 
man who writes like a woman. He does not seek to convey 
a specific thought, a four-square idea, but to create the im- 
pression in another's mind of some not quite attained cere-, 
bration in his own. This method is not due so much to a lazy 
habit of mind, or a hazy temperament, as to an indirect man* 
ner of thinking. We all know the person, male or female, who 
conducts a discussion as a prosecuting attorney might dea) 
with a dull or reluctant witness, putting his own suggestions 
adroitly into another's mind. "Only on dark nights like this, 



382 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

wouldn't you say, it is hardly safe to take that road?" . . . 
"One has the feeling, that something not yet wholly realized 
exists at least in essence, etc.?" . . . Plainly such minds 
achieve thought if it can be called such by approxima- 
tions, thrown forth at random on the chance that some- 
where, somehow, they will attach themselves to a substance 
and clinging to its support will start the weaving process of 
creative thought. 

The thing can be done! It is done admirably by the younger 
women writers of the day and by some of their brothers 
marked with the feminine character, in poetry perhaps more 
than in prose, but abundantly in both. Journalistically, such 
a style is called "suggestive"; in more aesthetic circles, "sub- 
tle." And few there be who have the rude courage to squeeze 
this wordy performance tightly and analyze the drip- 
pings. . . . 

"This is partly a matter of the mind" (I quote almost at 
random from the critic's article) "in the sense of an over- 
seeing element in which all the parts of a work of art are 
perceived and given to us in their due relation among them- 
selves, so that the character and meaning of the whole is 
solidly achieved, etc., etc." Squeeze it and see what you get! 
Another glance gives: "How bright and delicious Shakespeare 
can be, so often better however strong our wills to it 
than we could remember!" Delicious! The kitchen commen- 
dation might well curdle in the poet's gut. Such an airy con- 
descension is treating him worse than calling him the Bard 
of Avon. 



There is another type of critic, the table-thumping kind, 
whose vehement and swiftly changing affirmations exhibit 
that emotional instability commonly ascribed to women. 
Each time my eye falls on one of his deliverances he is a 
favorite of publishers' jackets he has discovered a new 
astounding masterpiece, which can be exalted only by derid- 
ing something old. For him literature to be good, like break- 



HERMAPHRODITES 3 83 

fast rolls, must be baked this morning. Conscious that all 
may not accept his discoveries, he is truculent: he scorns 
the doubter in advance and covers him with verbal con- 
tempt. Criticism for this one seems to be a process of self- 
intoxication, for which the thing criticized serves merely as a 
point of departure for his ecstatic fury, as, alas, so often 
happens in love. "A great book, a rich and wise and beautiful 
and original and profound and sublime and immensely mov- 
ing book, etc., etc." What more could one say of God? . . . 
The still small voice of truth does not penetrate such frenzy, 
nor the cool glamour of beauty. Heat is the sole medium of 
his passion and the more he writes and he is voluble the 
more heat he must give off, like a racing motor. He must, I 
am convinced, be married to a masculine woman; for I ex- 
plain his vociferations, his frenzies of immediate convictions 
as due to his struggle to maintain the dominance of the male 
in a never-ending sex duel. In time his voice will grow less 
shrill, his truculent ardors fainter, as he loses out in the 
domestic contest and the woman smoothes him to her uses. 
He is fighting a losing battle like one slipping in heavy sand, 
and the daily article he pours forth so hotly is his means of 
self-defense. . . . 

There are other varieties of the man-woman critic, more 
than I have time to mention. There is the humming-bird 
critic who pecks here and there capriciously like a woman 
with a whimsical appetite in a cafeteria, repeating again and 
again "So it seems to me." He has much to say about "per- 
sonality" and "individualism," the self. Does anyone who 
possesses an individuality talk much about it? 

For the perfect example of the man who writes like a 
woman, however, I must go to England, as for almost every 
illustration of finish in letters, even today. I select Mr. 
Aldous Huxley, first, because he writes so well that any 
woman writer might be proud to be mistaken for him: he has 
perfected his manner meticulously for a number of years 



384 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

as the American writers of his type have not yet done. 
And, further, because his novel, Point Counter Point, 
comes so exactly to my purpose. That "slice of life" 
taken from post-war London begins nowhere and ends no- 
where, like so many of the works of the younger writers (as 
ihough they felt it necessary to demonstrate the meaning- 
lessness of time and space by giving a microcosm of futility! ) . 
Between the first and last pages of this book much is tucked 
deftly away caricature, scandal, irony, reflection, stray bits 
of information, etc. There are many contemporary portraits, 
some done from life, it is said. This fact, of itself, both in- 
terests and intrigues, but above and beyond this, it is essen- 
tial that the portraits shall have a life of their own some- 
thing else than identifiable traits which in my opinion most 
of them just miss having. They are keen studies in perversity 
and stupidity and inanition, very, very clever studies often. 
But as the characters emerge from Mr. Huxley's caustic 
phrases they lack that touch of reasonable humanity without 
which their own mothers would fail to recognize them. They 
speak the proper idiom ; they perform the trivial acts willed 
for them by their designer; but, like the electrical robots 
now being perfected by our mechanical geniuses to take the 
place of human robots, they would not deceive a child, skill- 
ful as their simulation of life is. 

The women are much more believable and more thor- 
oughly done than the men (also those men whose emotional 
range resembles that of the women ! ) which is one indica- 
tion of the man who writes like women. Women, I am sure, 
must recognize these tarnished sisters, for only a woman 
soul could divine their hidden secrets, their griefs and indirect 
reflexes, and reveal them so remorselessly. As a rule the mas- 
culine portraits of women, even as great an instance as 
James' immortal Lady, are approximations (conventionalized, 
too) rather than fulfilled creations: the qualities of mind and 
soul may be there, but not the tricks, the little gestures, thuse 
subtle indirections which only women recognize and properly 



HERMAPHRODITES 385 

evaluate among themselves. All these Mr. Huxley has, as no 
other man novelist of our day that I know, has. 

One of his female creations demands separate mention: 
Lucy, the incarnation of all that is vile in woman to date. 
Lucy is the one rounded, completely delivered character that 
I have found in the whole brilliant string of Mr. Huxley's 
books, and before her any mere man must stand aghast, 
appalled. Women, one might suppose, would flee the creator 
of Lucy as they would Medusa, but women are said not to 
mind the spiritually prying eye provided what it reveals 
makes them interesting. I doubt if any woman novelist at 
any time has so completely presented the Lucy kind of de- 
pravity as has Mr. Huxley. Kipling, in a fit of disgust, tried 
for Lucy in his line about "a rag and a bone and a hank of 
hair"; but that was an obscene daubing on a wall compared 
with the Huxley version. Over this ruthless masterpiece the 
author lays aside his accustomed manner of ridicule, carica- 
ture: he is in deadly earnest and admires his own creation 
too much to distort it. Lucy, terrible as she is and fascinat- 
ing to certain males largely because they are completely 
mystified by her is not the kind most men writers would 
care to leave as their masterpiece. 

The nearest approach to this female monstrosity is the 
Editor more than half-woman on his weaker side whom 
Mr. Huxley treats with a pursuing, relentless contempt, 
which saves him from the reader's disgust. Apparently his 
creator dislikes feminine traits in men though why? . . . 
As for the others, men and women, they are shadow puppets, 
gayly, maliciously, cruelly thrown up on a drab screen: they 
make a rancid world, mocking reality close enough to be 
nauseating. 

It is not because Mr. Huxley is so exceptionally deft that 
I put him in the forefront of the tribe of man-woman writers. 
Subtlety is no sex attribute: witness that very fine and subtle 
work of art, A Passage to India. I know of nothing in recent 



386 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

literature subtler than Mr. Forster's unpretentious story, nor 
with a longer reach. It preserves an air of unpremeditation, 
as though skillfully put together from trivialities. Simple as 
it is outwardly, it goes deep into one of the great tragic mys- 
teries of humanity race antagonism and misunderstanding. 
It presents for all time that baffling human complex of racial 
arrogance, of men doing evil with a glow of noblest inten- 
tion in their breasts, all unconscious of the wrong they are 
doing. With equal justice it presents the petty aspects of 
those who are wronged, who fail and must always fail to do 
themselves justice no matter how excellent their cause may 
be. ... Of course, A Passage to India has an idea, a theme, 
which is no longer in the mode, but that in itself is one of its 
male characteristics. A man who has anything of importance 
to say usually discovers some general idea or purpose around 
which to group his material, no matter how inadequate or 
false or imperfectly developed it may be: it is there like a 
backbone in a torso. Spineless art, if not wholly a discovery 
of women writers, is at any rate much practiced by them. 

A Passage to India is as subtle as the most sinuous product 
of our introverted writers and has as well form and meaning, 
and is beyond question male. from the first page to the last. 

What do I mean by this sex tag, by a "male" style, "male" 
imagination? I confess it is not easy to define these terms 
as precisely as I should like: they must be felt. Just as any 
handwriting expert is able to distinguish a woman's hand 
from a man's in a specimen submitted to him with an occa- 
sional mistake so any expert in letters knows without being 
told when a manuscript is written by a woman or a man. 
I have read in my day thousands perhaps tens of thousands 
of manuscripts and I rarely have had to turn to the 
signature to discover whether a man or a woman was the 
author. And where there would be any real doubt the product 
was usually colorless, negative, negligible. 

This, obviously, does not imply that the creations of one 



HERMAPHRODITES 387 

sex are preferable, better or wiser than those of the other. 
Merely that they are different. Fundamentally different in 
manner as well as spiritual content, as they should be to be 
worth while, being the expression of two distinct organisms, 
which nature has endowed differently although both use the 
same media of expression and suffer, roughly speaking, the 
same experiences. Each is excellent not in the measure that 
it approaches a sexless norm, but in the measure that it 
expresses most characteristically the basic traits of its own 
nature. The critic should not judge according to the sex of the 
writer nor make allowances nor in any way vary his standard. 
But as he looks for one kind of performance from a Russian 
and another from an American, let us say, because he knows 
that the Russian has a distinct psychology, a separate racial 
and cultural background, which must be reflected in his art, 
totally different from those of the American, so one looks 
for qualities in any writing proper to the sex of its creator. 

Two pertinent instances of what I mean come to my mind: 
the work of two authors approximately contemporary and 
with approximately the same backgrounds, one by a woman 
and the other by a man. No one could possibly belie v6 that 
the creator of Lady into Fox was a woman or of Precious Bane 
a man. I do not know whether to admire Mrs. Webb's or 
Mr. Garnett's art more: fortunately it is not necessary to be 
comparative between two perfect achievements. I savor both. 
I am grateful for both . . . and I am never troubled one 
moment because neither one is trying to create in the terms 
of the other. No man could feel our common world quite as 
Mrs. Webb feels it in Precious Bane and in Gone to Earth. No 
man (not even Mr. Huxley!) could reveal a woman's re- 
actions to certain acute situations as justly as Mrs. Webb. 
Nor could any woman achieve quite the strange imaginative 
complexity of Mr. Garnett's delicate fancies in whose depths 
lie concealed large ideas. If I might venture further I should 
say that the man in this case has the stronger imaginative 
flight while the woman has a more potent sensibility to all 



388 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

physical phenomena. But I am content to have them as they 
are, separated by the chasm of sex, and each singing a com- 
mon song in a different key. 

The biologists tell us that there are species which are sexu- 
ally interchangeable. Man does not belong to those species. 
He is a mammal, and the mammals conceive and create 
through the instrumentality of two distinct sexes, each 
equipped with appropriate organs, temperaments, psychol- 
ogy. It seems to be the fashion nowadays to ignore this rude 
basic fact, to confuse and swap the sexes. For political and 
social and economic purposes it may be helpful, temporarily, 
to forget the biologic distinctions: they have certainly been 
overstressed in the past to the discomfort and the disadvan- 
tage of one sex, the less (overtly) aggressive sex. But in art 
the distinction cannot be ignored, any more than in the crea- 
tion of babies, and it might be well if our vociferous younger 
generation, male and female alike, remembered that as they 
cannot add a cubit to their stature by taking thought, so no 
cunning surface imitation will accomplish a real exchange of 
sex character. All that results is the hermaphrodite! : . . 

Nor should anyone want to change sex character. The 
penalty in art as in nature is sterility, extinction. A femi- 
nized race in time becomes extinct. So too a feminized art. 



SEX CONTROL 1 

By Morris L. Ernst and William Seagle 

When morality triumphs, nasty things happen. 

REMY DE GOURMONT 

THE triumph of Mrs. Grundy in the Anglo-Saxon world 
ceases to be inexplicable as soon as it is considered in terms 
of the three indexes of virtue. If the Age of Faith adopted the 
index of heresy, the Age of Divine Right, the index of trea- 
son, it was inevitable for the Age of Democracy to adopt the 
index of sex. The shift from the first index to the second has 
been made clear. It remains to show the transition to the 
Age of Sex Control. 

It is customary to rail against the sex censorship. It is de- 
clared to be an insuperable obstacle to civilization. But we 
will be much nearer the truth if we say that it is one of the 
penalties of civilization. The paradox is that it came into ex- 
istence as the first consequence of our enlightenment. Rightly 
regarded, the sex censorship is the measles of civilization. 
In evolving a politically free man, the life force made him 
a sexually inhibited one. In an ultimate sense, Galileo and 
Bacon are responsible for Lord Chief Justice Cockburn. The 
absurdities and inanities of the modern dread of the obscene 
have simply obscured the relationship. 

When the conditions of political liberty and intellectual 
emancipation have been first fulfilled, we may expect the sex 
censorship to appear. It is no mere accident that the symptoms 
first made themselves visible in England. For almost three 
centuries, the closest parallelism is to be observed in the evo- 
lution of Continental and English censorship. Substantially 

1 From To the Pure. New York: The Viking Press, Inc., 1928. 

389 



39O SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

the same social, economic, and political conditions made the 
mechanism of censorship almost identical and kept its focus 
at the same points. Then, at the end of the seventeenth cen- 
tury, the divergence begins. The preventive censorship of the 
Star Chamber, the Licensing Acts, disappear in England at 
the same time that they are still the normal mechanism of 
control on the Continent. 

Indeed, England emerged from the barbarism of the Mid- 
dle Ages so much earlier than the rest of Europe that when- 
ever the history of liberty and democracy is discussed, we 
naturally turn first to England. It is customary to say that 
England took the lead in the emancipation of the serfs, in 
the formation of Bills of Rights, in the removal of religious 
disabilities, and in the establishment of representative gov- 
ernment. The Anglo-Saxon speaks proudly of Magna Carta 
and the Petition of Rights. The early collapse of preventive 
censorship under the assaults of English libertarianism was 
an indication of this weakening of authority. The censorship 
was now administered under the criminal law in the punitive 
manner we know at present, and freedom of the press be- 
came the Englishman's ironic privilege of going to jail for his 
opinions. The right which an Englishman now had to a 
public trial and the verdict of his peers under a clear defi- 
nition of the issues not only made it easier to escape a charge 
of sedition but made the crime itself unpopular. 

When the evolution of criminal obscenity is discussed with 
reference to Continental countries, it is much easier to avoid 
confusion and obscurantism. But when we turn to England 
we discover that it is the usual custom to ascribe the whole 
business to Puritanism. It is the particular habit of literary 
critics to set Puritanism up as a windmill, and then like so 
many gallant Don Quixotes to charge straight at the monster. 
We are told again and again of the Puritan's hostility to joy, 
his suspicion of art, his tolerance of infidelity. Puritanism is 
shouted as a dreadful accusation which is expected to bring 
to their knees the weaker, more easily intimidated Puritans. 



SEX CONTROL 39 1 

It is thus made to assume an objective reality which it is fat 
from possessing. For Puritanism, which is offered as an ex> 
planation, is simply the label for a conclusion upon a very 
complex state of affairs. When it is used as a descriptive term 
for the sake of brevity, it serves a legitimate purpose. But 
unfortunately it has become perhaps the most frozen formula 
in the English language. It has resulted in our thinking that 
a peculiar kink exists in the English mind which separates 
it from all others. 

When we say that the sex censorship is the creation of 
English Puritanism, all that we can properly mean is that 
the conditions which favored its existence appeared sooner 
in England than on the Continent. What is important to 
remember is that it was precisely the Puritans who had been 
largely instrumental in insuring English political freedom. 
Puritanism, which was bound up with the rise of modern 
capitalism, had need of such liberty to pursue its practical 
and worldly enterprises. But, again, it must not be forgotten 
that Magna Carta was the work in part of the barons and 
nobility who were in revolt against the excessive claims of 
prerogatives in the Crown. When we inject the economic 
necessities of Puritanism into the discussion, we need only 
take into account the fact that the creation of a large middle 
class led to popular education, which first resulted in an 
increased reading class, and then ultimately made for such 
a spread of enlightenment that a new sanction had to be 
discovered. 

It is no paradox to say that the Puritan had little concep< 
tion of the modern sex censorship of literature. What atten- 
tion he paid to obscenity in books arose merely from his 
inability as an earnest and practical-minded man to dis- 
tinguish between lewdness in books and lewdness in life. 
He was against sexual immorality in life because he knew 
that a profligate life led to the undermining of the virtues of 
sobriety, frugality and industry which were indispensable 
to his labors for civilization. Thus he was always concerned 



3Q2 SEX ATTITUDES IN MObERN SOCIETY 

about the bad example which a lewd book or play might set. 
He had no objection to the depiction of vice and sin pro- 
vided it was bound up with the proper indignation. His 
attitude toward obscenities consequently differed little from 
the prohibitionist's objections to intoxicating liquor in its 
effects upon a man's efficiency. It had as yet no connection 
with the censorship of ideas and did not constitute part of 
the political function. Hogarth exactly caught the Puritan 
motive when in one of his prints he pictured the wicked 
mechanic reading Moll Flanders while the good mechanic 
read the story of the apprentice who became Lord Mayor 
of London. This conception of the art of life which early 
displayed itself in a host of sumptuary laws so far antedates 
the evolution of criminal obscenity that no other conclusion 
is possible than that more than the Puritan state of mind 
was involved. 

The critics who treat literary decency by a biometric 
formula in accordance with which it rises and wanes in rela- 
tion to "Puritanism" have gone far astray as is proved con- 
clusively by the length of time which elapsed between the 
emergence of English political liberty and the appearance 
of the crime of obscene libel. The crime of blasphemy still 
sufficed against the winds of doctrine. However much deism 
may have been popular in the upper reaches of English 
society, the masses were under the influence of religious 
orthodoxy, and blasphemy prosecutions of the eighteenth 
and nineteenth centuries still had public opinion behind 
them. It is a rule that when one of the safeguards against 
subversive doctrine is rendered less effective there is a com- 
pensating shift of emphasis toward another. The jurisdiction 
over blasphemy had been lodged in the ecclesiastical courts, 
but the pressure of political freedom transferred it to the 
temporal courts. The prominence of blasphemy prosecutions 
in England is no doubt partly to be explained by the English 
dread of Popery, a dread which had been ushered in with the 
uxorious Henry; but this was no less one of the signs of 



SEX CONTROL 393 

emancipation. The time had not yet arrived for the sex 
censorship in England, where the fear of blasphemy was so 
great that even in the middle. of the nineteenth century suc- 
cessful prosecutions could be conducted against such ration- 
alists as Carlyle, Cooperj Watts, Bradlaugh, Holyoake, and 
Foote. 

If there is any doubt of the meaning of the application of 
the intermediate index, it is removed by the fact of the pro- 
longed American insistence that it, no less than England, was 
a Christian country. It is true that political liberty under 
rigid constitutional guarantees became better established 
here at an earlier date than in the motherland. But the myth 
of the absolutely free and untrammeled American has be- 
come more and more discredited. The adoption of the Alien 
and Sedition Acts so soon after the great struggle over the 
Constitution is only one of the many qualifications which 
were made. The significant fact is, however, that in sup- 
posedly free America the necessity for maintaining the index 
of religion was recognized. The fact is that a direct union of 
Church and State obtained in the New England states and 
Maryland till the middle of the nineteenth century, and that 
England had effected complete Catholic and Jewish eman- 
cipation before at least one American state, New Hampshire. 
It is interesting that the greatest strides toward religious free- 
dom were made in Virginia, the first of the Southern states 
which had a feudal aristocracy of slaveholders which was 
quite sure of itself. The First Amendment to the Federal 
Constitution was interpreted to limit only the powers of Con- 
gress in interfering with free worship. Christianity was de- 
clared to be the law of the land in the sense that it was en- 
titled to preference and protection. Until the late years of 
the nineteenth century atheists were generally incompetent 
to testify in America, and still are in Arkansas, Maryland 
and North Carolina. Blasphemy was a crime in all American 
states no less than in England, and the American and English 
Puritan still refused to take alarm. 



394 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOQIETY 

The sex censorship was the result of the secularization of 
life. From 1800, when the conventions of literary decency 
began to mature, to the time of Lord Chief Justice Campbell 
was the period of gradual transition. If the growth of the 
circulating libraries in England constituted a menace, a free 
public library was an even worse "evergreen tree of diabol- 
ical knowledge." The modern public libraries date from the 
middle of the nineteenth century in both England and 
America, but it took another quarter century before their 
resources became adequate. When the first public library in 
England was opened at Manchester, Thackeray improved 
upon Hogarth by picturing the Lancashire mechanic read- 
ing Carlyle, Dickens and Bulwer-Lytton. Popular education 
was introduced by Forster's Act in England in 1780, and 
alarmed satirists began to picture houses burning down 
while their cooks read hydrostatics in sixpenny tracts. The 
Civil War marked the same turning point in America. It is 
more than an extraordinary coincidence that Lord Camp- 
bell^ Act, the final establishment of obscene libel as a crime 
at Common Law, the Comstock Acts in America, and the 
publication of The Origin of Species all occurred approxi- 
mately in a decade. The cluster of the dates 1857, 1859, 1868, 
1872 indicates that the late Puritanism which flowered in 
what we call mid-Victorianism was beginning to struggle 
with the monster it had created. 

The organization of special vice societies seemed impera- 
tive in such an acute situation. The New York Society for 
the Suppression of Vice was becoming a terror which made 
its influence felt in all parts of the Anglo-Saxon world. Over 
three-quarters of a century of battle had apparently worn 
out the old English Society for the Suppression of Vice, and 
removed it far from its original inspiration. A successor arose 
in 1885 in the National Vigilance Associatiop. It is almost a 
law of their evolution that vice societies arise to ideal with 
tangible evils and then soon turn to imaginary ones. The im- 
mediate cause for its organization was the existence of a con- 



SEX CONTROL 395 

siderable white slave traffic which disgraced London at the 
time. The cause was taken up at the instigation of several 
ladies by the eccentric W. T. Stead, who, as the result of a 
number of investigations, published that never-to-be-for- 
gotten series of articles in his Pall Mall Gazette entitled The 
Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon. The revelations were 
so graphic, startling, and specific that the starved Victorians 
devoured the editions almost before they came off the press, 
and a a wave of public indignation'' swept London. To deal 
with them the Vigilance Society was organized at a great 
all-day meeting in St. James's Hall followed by a monster 
demonstration in Hyde Park to which contingents from all 
ends of London went singing hallelujahs. The first contribu- 
tion was a five pound note from none other than His Emi- 
nence Cardinal Manning. It was significant that now the 
Anglicans and the Catholics were lying down together like 
the lion and the lamb. The Vice Secretary chosen was Wil- 
liam Alexander Coote, whose exploits came to rival Corn- 
stock's. Within three years he was leading the attack against 
the novels of Zola. 

When Darwinism burst upon a frightened world, the fear 
that was most expressed was that its materialism would 
shake the ethical foundations of society. Without belief in 
the Christian religion, men would relapse into savagery. 
Without a system of rewards and punishments, there could 
be no compelling reason for right conduct. With the religious 
test of life undermined, the Victorian world set out upon a 
quest for a secular system of ethics, and discovered its basis 
naturally in sex. With the powers of the state also limited, 
the family was of peculiar importance as a medium through 
which to bind the conscience of the individual, and the deep 
loyalties of the family became paramount. When a modern 
employer, for instance, asks an applicant for work if he is 
married, he is only using a test of dependability and regularity 
which elevates the Home as the fountain-head of the State. 
With the secularization of life, a special stress is placed upon 



396 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

the institution of marriage, and the whole sexual life be- 
comes a matter of grave concern. The secularization of life 
means, too, the triumph of individualism, and sex is the 
center of the individual's life forces. The evolution of the 
sex censorship occurred so long before the advent of Freud- 
ianism that it is a remarkable tribute to the practical genius 
for government which marks the Anglo-Saxon. The use of the 
law of criminal obscenity for the regimentation of life is an 
instinctive historical anticipation of the vast import of the 
libido. When we understand the multiple sublimations of 
which it is capable in all the avenues of life, we are no longer 
surprised that sex control has become the very crux of the 
political means. The sex censorship is Freudianism in action. 
It was accomplished by the gradual dissociation of the carnal 
and spiritual aspects of sex. 

The old Puritan horror of lewdness and obscenities is also 
part of the modern sex censorship. To the extent that they 
are identical we are not mystified. It is often recognized 
as a characteristic of autocrats that they permit greater 
sexual laxity while they savagely curb political freedom: the 
brothel and vodka performed the same function in Tzarist 
Russia. But in a democracy, which simply means a state 
which is concerned with the welfare of the individual, it is 
natural that an attempt be made to guard against the delete- 
rious effects of obscenity per se. The tendency is for an exces- 
sive pornography to be envisaged as a dangerous drug which 
interferes with the life of democratic citizenship. When ob- 
scenity is so regarded, its relation to the political means is 
very slight. To regard it even as the very mildest excitant to 
unconformity, one has to imagine a citizen in the lower 
ranks of society who has been so debauched by obscenities 
that he begins to give ear to the voices of disaffection. 

At first blush, the transformation of the law of criminal ob- 
scenity into a normal method for the censorship of ideas is 
less obvious. Its duplicity has often been observed. There 
is a comparative frankness and straightforwardness about a 



SEX CONTROL 3Q7 

charge of sedition or blasphemy. It is true that there may be 
differences of opinion as to the nature of an actionable 
sedition or blasphemy but the political dangers of such 
opinions are palpable. All the absurdities of the political cen- 
sor or ecclesiastical inquisitor do not leave us in the dark as 
to his central object. Indeed his greatest alarm arises natu- 
rally from the fact that the tendency of treasonable and irre- 
ligious doctrine is more immediately convulsive. Sex, how* 
ever, is a far more subtle index of virtue. A political censor 
objecting to such an expression in a geography as a "union/ 
of two rivers" as treasonable in its implications appears less 
egregious than the secretary of a vice society who objects to 
a union of lips for three minutes. 

Nevertheless, it is true that the sex censorship is also a 
new metamorphosis in the control of 6pinion. The very name 
of the crime in English law, "obscene libel/' shows that it 
is a substitution for "seditious libeP and "blasphemous 
libel." It has become one of the peace-time limitations upon 
free speech. It happens, for instance, that in war periods the 
barriers of the index of sex are always relaxed, since the state 
grows omnipotent and the censor turns his attention to 
patriotism. This was as true during the Great War as dur- 
ing the American revolutionary period, when Charlotte 
Temple was the most popular American novel. If censor- 
ship of jazz is unknown, the reason is that music has no 
articulate relation to ideas. If neo-Puritanism has receded 
from its early antipathy for the nude in painting, it is from 
a gradual realization that the same is true of art. But such 
old Puritans as Jeremy Collier and Anthony Comstock, who 
appreciated obscenity per se y knew better. The former re- 
marked: "Music is almost as dangerous as gunpowder," and 
the latter hunted September Morns. 

Very gradually the obscenity laws have been adapted to the 
safe-guarding of the most vital interest of modern civiliza- 
tion. We may speak freely upon any subject except the one 
in which our age is most absorbed. There is an implicit line 



398 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

of demarcation drawn between the type which questions 
those sexual morals themselves. Where the injury is offered 
to the sense of shame, it has to be gross before action will 
be taken. When it is existing sexual morality that is attacked, 
the degree of offensiveness need often be very slight. A Shu- 
bert review may approach the limits with impunity when a 
God of Vengeance or a Mrs. Warren's Profession are at once 
suppressed. An E. M. Hull and a Marie Corelli who do not 
attack the established order but indeed base themselves upon 
its standards in their exhibitionism of sex passion are exempt, 
but such writers as Zola, Dreiser, and W. L. George, whose 
work reflects upon current morality, have been subjected to 
prosecution. For instance, the Secretary of the New York 
Society for the Suppression of Vice publicly stated that the 
trouble with The Genius was that "there are very vivid 
descriptions of the activities of certain female delinquents 
who do not, apparently, suffer any ill consequence from their 
misconduct but, in the language of the day, 'get away with 
it.' " George Moore will probably never achieve a state of 
grace, for Esther Waters has actually led to the foundation 
of an Esther Waters Home for Girl Mothers. The works of 
Shelley have been haled into the Old Bailey but Byron has 
always lain upon drawing-room tables, even though the editor 
of My Grandmother's Review protested. A criticism of estab- 
lished sin tends to become criminal obscenity. That many 
more authors are not called to account is due to the limita- 
tions of human energy and the stupidity of authorities who 
do not always fully appreciate when morality is involved. A 
few sacrificial victims are simply chosen every now and then 
to remind the iconoclasts that virtue is not to be flouted with 
impunity. This periodic character of all censorship makes its 
rules merely the rules of a game, and leaves only the central 
reality significant. 

The modern sex censorship concentrates more and more 
upon the creative artist. A theorist is often left unmolested 
where a novelist, especially if he is a realist, has to show 



SEX CONTROL 399 

cause. When sex is the index of virtue, it is natural for the 
novelist to attract the first attention. The love story is 
watched far more carefully than in ages when theological 
and political dispute was the main theme of authors. It is 
through the vehicle of persuasive fiction that corrupting 
ideas are popularized nowadays. Long ago Anth&iy Trollope 
declared: "I have always thought of myself as a preacher 
of sermons"; and Galsworthy has commented on one of his 
characters: "Like most novel readers of his generation, lit- 
erature colored his view of life." Where once the great 
agitator moved the multitude, and the great preacher his 
congregation, it is the creative artist who has become the 
middle man through whom the revolutionary ideas of the 
thinkers are spread. It is he who represents philosophy in 
action. It is the creative artist who is the true performer and 
revolutionist, however unconscious he may be of such a 
mission. Mill's The Subjection of Women had gathered dust 
for many a year, but no sooner had H. G. Wells published 
Ann Veronica, which sounded the keynote of English femi- 
nism, than the hue and cry was raised. Hegel was called 
"an obscene bird of the night," but he elicited hardly more 
than this epithet, while Dreiser, who swallowed Hegeliarfism 
in his youth, has been the pet of the vice societies for a 
generation. 

It is easy to fall into too great a Machiavellian acuteness 
if the qualification is not understood that sex censorship has 
a direct and indirect operation. The secretaries of vice so- 
cieties are not philosophers and they are quite unconscious 
usually of the forces which support them. But that does not 
gainsay their reality. Many prosecutions are inspired simply 
by the hysterical attitude toward sex which the standards of 
censorship have themselves created. When they are a mani- 
festation only of the tendency of the times, they are com- 
paratively benign. But more often an ulterior motive, a per- 
sonal animus, a political hostility is to be found. 

The adoption of the index of sex was bound to make cen 



4OO SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

sorship far more sinister and dishonest than under the older 
tests. There are certain reticences which accompany sex in 
savage as well as in civilized societies, however much these 
may vary. An injury offered to the vital instincts of sex at 
once invokes the sacred name of morality, under which all 
sorts of crimes can be accomplished with convenience. The 
tests of obscenity are so comfortably vague. And many a 
man who will brave a charge of open atheism with impunity 
will fly when the specter of obscenity is raised. There can 
hardly have been a worse infidel than Ingersoll; yet when 
it was rumored that he was for the total repeal of the Com- 
stock Laws, he resigned from the vice-presidency of the 
Liberal League. A combination charge of blasphemy and 
obscenity was too much for him to bear. The Anglo-Saxon 
who regards an assault upon free speech with horror views 
with equanimity its suppression as obscenity. Sir James 
Stephens has remarked upon the difficulty of distinguishing 
be tween* simple obscenity and immorality in sexual ethics. 
Even more often heterodoxy in sex matters is confused with 
radicalism in general. The wise radical instinctively realizes 
that he must avoid the bugaboos of sex if he wishes to speak 
against social and economic evils. But he discovers soon that 
this is the most difficult thing in the world. The Achilles heel 
of the sex censorship is so large that a hidden motive is be- 
hind most prosecutions. It is usually radicals, reformers, ec- 
centrics and trouble makers of one kind or another who are 
involved. 

It is important to understand that sex radicalism in modern 
life is the best general index of radicalism in other spheres. 
The man who publicly upholds birth control, the single 
standard, free love, companionate marriage, easy divorce, 
and legitimization is a man prone to play with subversive 
ideas on private property, to be attracted by criminal syndi- 
calism, to be dubious about the House of Lords, or about 
the fitness of the Republican Party to govern, and to ques- 
tion the general efficacy of prayer. When such an individual 



SEX CONTROL 4OI 

is attacked under the sex censorship, it is assumed that no 
very great tenderness for his rights need be shown. 

From the very earliest days, the sex censorship has ex- 
hibited its affinities in this way. Charles Bradlaugh, Charles 
Watts, Annie Besant, who were all notorious infidels or ra- 
tionalists, had to stand trial for publishing Malthusian pam- 
phlets and were the first victims of Lord Chief Justice Cock- 
burn's revolution in the law. The fact that they all had been 
indicted for blasphemy not many years before this indicates 
neatly, moreover, the transition to the sexual index of vir- 
tue. The Comstock Laws found their first victims in such 
vigorous apostles of discontent as Bennett, the Woodhull 
sisters, Harmon and Ezra Heywood, who were the subjects 
of prosecution again and again. When criminal obscenity 
laws are invoked for dealing with intemperate denunciation 
of the Catholic Church, it is really religious controversy that 
is thus controlled. The same use has been made in America 
of the Postal Laws to keep anti-Catholic literature from the 
mails. When such action is taken a Catholic bishop or the 
Knights of Columbus are often discovered in the back- 
ground. 

The desire to dispose of a vexing radical publisher is as 
manifest in the repeated indictments against certain pub- 
lishers now as in the repeated indictments of Vizetelly in the 
eighties. The social and economic radicalism of the New 
Masses and the American Mercury supplies the impetus be- 
hind the crusade against them as it did against the Adult Re- 
view in 1898, when its editor, who also kept a bookstore, sold 
a copy of Havelock Ellis' The Psychology of Sex, unmolested 
till then. The hardest motive to trace is the gratification of 
private malice but it undoubtedly can be seen in the 
Madeleine case. The demand for censorship was raised by 
politicians who had been investigated by the grand jury oi 
which an officer of Harper's was a member. 

The most constant ulterior use which has been made of the 
obscenity laws is in the battle against birth control. This has 



4O2 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

almost the dignity of a settled policy. It has lapsed from its 
early virulence in England since the famous prosecutions 
against Bradlaugh, Annie Besant, and Edward Truelove be- 
cause the law itself was amended, but it has not abated in 
America, where this ulterior motive still constitutes the great- 
est incubus of the Comstock Laws. The hazards of Dr. Marie 
Stopes in England were mild compared to the perils of Mar- 
garet Sanger in New York. It must be obvious that there is 
nothing inherently obscene in the rational exposition of an 
argument for the prevention of conception. But the fact that 
sex is involved has been seized as a pretext to charge birth 
control reformers with purveying obscene literature. In one- 
half of the American states there are no laws against giving 
contraceptive information but the same result is effected 
under the obscenity laws. Where there are such combination 
laws a great deal could be accomplished by a preliminary 
campaign to separate the provisions against obscene litera- 
ture and birth control information which are mingled in the 
same statute. To the Anglo-Saxon mind they are, however, 
almost inseparable. The greatest obstacle is the example of 
the Federal Postal Laws. The best known case is that of 
Carlo Tresca, who, offending the Italian Government, found 
himself in the penitentiary ostensibly for publishing an "ob- 
scene" birth control advertisement of two lines! Speaking 
generally the United States federal sex censorship is more 
frequently invoked against radicalism than is the state or 
English censorship. Its remoteness and irresponsibility give 
it the greater elasticity necessary for this purpose. 

The index, after all, matters little. A book which is ob- 
scene is very often also seditious or irreligious. It was G. B. 
Shaw who once pointed out that King Lear constituted an 
obscene, seditious, and blasphemous libel all in one. Life 
is too complex for these elements ever to be completely iso- 
lated. Walt Whitman's democracy, for instance, is a political 
nuisance, his sanctification of the Life Force is irreligious, 
and his frankness in sex matters is obscenity. It is interest- 



SEX CONTROL 403 

ing that while the latter character has condemned him in 
England and America, he has recently been proscribed as 
an anarchist in reactionary Hungary. Conversely, not so long 
ago a shipment of Lenin's and Trotsky's work, The State 
and the Revolution, was seized as obscene in Boston. Birth 
control is blasphemy as well as obscenity; it is an attempt to 
undo God's command: "Increase and multiply." Hawthorne's 
The Scarlet Letter is sacrilegious in the slur which it casts 
upon the uprightness of the clergy, and obscene in the sexual 
immorality which is the clergyman's sin. If the state as- 
sumed to protect the reputation of ministers, such a book 
would also be treasonable. Elmer Gantry, its modern suc- 
cessor, has been condemned in Boston as obscene because of 
the seductions of its religious hero. A hundred years ago, it 
would have constituted a blasphemous and impious libel upou 
religion. Two hundred years ago The President's Daughter 
would have constituted a seditious libel upon the person of 
His Majesty if written of an English king. As it is, an at- 
tempt was made to suppress the book as obscene and the 
"Vice Society states its regret that it could not prevent a libel 
on a dead statesman. Shelley's Queen Mab was the subject 
of a prosecution for blasphemy in 1842. By the end of the 
century, the printed copies of The Cenci would have been 
attacked. 

Mutatis mutandis, the very same rules of the game of cen- 
sorship have always prevailed. The sergeant-at-law who de- 
fended Queen Mab employed the reductio ad absurdum of 
the classics in the same manner as Vizetelly, except that he 
chose the examples of blasphemy. He pointed to the slurs 
upon infant Christianity which are contained in the polished 
sarcasms of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 
and he asked if Milton had not let his imagination run away 
with him to the point where he invested the Satanic Ad- 
versary with too great nobility of soul and splendor. Now 
the Song of Solomon is adduced from the Bible just as the 
story of Job, who wished to curse God and die, was then. 



4O4 SEX ATTITUDES IN MODERN SOCIETY 

Always censorship has been aimed at the lower orders of 
society, and always directed particularly against "penny 
treason" and "penny blasphemy." Pitt refused to prosecute 
Godwin's Political Justice because it was published at three 
guineas a set, and he said, "a three guinea book could never 
do much harm among those who had not three shillings to 
spare." The gratification of private malice as a motive for 
censorship is one of the ulterior objects which has always 
been the same. Socrates was not attacked for corrupting 
morals of youth until after he had done so for decades, and 
the real animus of the prosecution was political, to punish 
him for his resistance to Athenian politicians. 

Only the fashions change. The old game of censorship con- 
tinues, even at the cost of all the psychic derangements of 
sx which sex control imposes. 



THE END